Russian crude-oil exports have taken a serious hit since new sanctions and a price cap came into force earlier in the week, with the Wall Street Journal reporting that figures from two data providers on Russian crude both show a big fall, though their magnitudes differ.
According to one commodity-analytics firm Kpler, Russia’s seaborne exports fell by nearly 500,000 barrels per day on Tuesday, a 16% decline from the November average of 3.08 million bpd.
Meanwhile, TankerTrackers.com, which tracks sea vessels using signals and satellite images, has reported that Russia’s crude exports fell by nearly 50%. With shipments from the Black Sea and Baltic ports accounting for most of the fall.
According to Samir Madani, cofounder of TankerTrackers.com, this is a notable drop rather than a blip, “Russian exports have been moving steadily up until now. The two biggest visible snags are in the Black and Baltic seas. Pacific and Arctic regions remain unaffected, at least for now”.
Analysts at StanChart have predicted that Russia’s crude production is set to fall sharply in the coming year, noting that the key unknown is whether Russia can transport oil to its major consumers (including providing adequate insurance) without using EU or other G7 services.
According to StanChart, Russia has acquired a large enough ‘shadow’ tanker fleet since its invasion of Ukraine that it can use to move most of the displaced volumes; however, the analysts note that the insurance aspect is likely to cause significant issues.
This situation leads analysts to predict that Russian crude output is likely to fall by 1.44 million barrels per day in 2023 thanks to a progressive shortage of high-quality equipment and a lack of access to international service companies.
At the same time, we are seeing a traffic jam of more than a dozen oil tankers stuck in the Turkish Straits thanks to a dispute between maritime insurers and the local authorities due to the new sanctions and price cap.
By Alex Kimani