By Nicolás Promanzio
In a context of expanding imports of Russian hydrocarbons in the Far East, China and India are positioned as Putin’s new clients to import huge volumes of Russian crude oil, including varieties from the Arctic originally destined for Europe.
This information was released by Vortexa Ltd. and Kpler Ltd., two data and analysis companies on global oil and gas flows and inventories transported by sea.
The new Russian Soyuz Vostok gas pipeline, announced at the beginning of 2022 and which will supply China with close to 50,000 million cubic meters of gas per year.
THE MIGRATION OF RUSSIAN EXPORTS
Prior to the sanctions, Arctic crude was shipped exclusively to Europe. These flows have been changing as the European Union imposed heavy sanctions on the Russian energy industry for the war in Ukraine.
With a series of measures culminating in an embargo on most Russian crude imports, which went into effect on December 5, Russia has decided to look for new buyers, and wants to have these customers ready by February 5, when they enter International embargoes on Russian fuels are in force.
As a consequence, China and India have replaced Europe as the main buyers of Russian oil, and especially India has increased its consumption of Russian crude notably.
Russia, which was a marginal exporter of Ukraine before the war, has become India’s largest oil supplier.
In addition, this week the Chinese regime has granted refiners and traders some 112 million tonnes of crude import quotas in its latest allocation for this year.
The Chinese communist government sets up a quota system under which independent refiners are given a certain volume to import oil in various allocations each year.
This significant quota, together with a generous concession for the export of fuel, could favor the country’s purchases of crude oil and the operation of refineries in the coming months, thus trying to revitalize the battered Chinese economy.
RECENT PURCHASES FROM CHINA AND INDIA
According to Vortexa Ltd., Chinese buyers will receive 3 shipments of Arctic crude in January including the little-known Arco variety, normally destined for Europe.
According to Bloomberg, Vortexa data indicates that China bought its first shipment of Arco in November of last year and that this quality could displace imports of the Iraqi barrel of “Basrah Heavy” oil.
The company Kpler Ltd. noted that the latest round of purchases from China included Varandey and a lighter variety known as Novy Port. The Arco variety is pumped from the Prirazlomnoye field in the Arctic and is one of three grades coming out of the port city Murmansk, along with Varandey and Novy Port.
Viktor Katona, chief crude oil analyst at Kpler, told Bloomberg that “the drift from arctic grades is taking place without a doubt.”
“Russian arctic degrees were among the flows oriented to Europe, and since December 5 they have to find new homes elsewhere. In all those cases it is more or less a division between India and China,” added the analyst.
The unusual purchases of Arctic oil also come after China’s daily crude and condensate imports last month hit the second-highest ever on record.
Meanwhile, India is also increasing its imports of Arctic Russian crude. The first shipment of Varandey crude blend from the Timan-Pechora oilfields, operated by Russian company Lukoil, arrived in India last month, according to Vortexa data.
According to monitoring data, six vessels that loaded at Murmansk in December were bound for India.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, India, the world’s third-largest crude importer, has also bought cargoes of other grades of Russian Arctic crude, such as Arco and Novy Port Light, the same grades China now imports. It is mainly for this reason that both China and India have refused to join the G7 price cap on Russian oil.Boats in Kola Bay, Murmansk Oblast, Russia.
With information from La Derecha Diario