Russian Seaborne Crude Exports Rise, Boosting Kremlin Oil Revenue by 25 Percent

By Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.
April 26, 2022 Updated: April 26, 2022

Russia’s seaborne crude exports rose in the week of April 16–22, potentially serving to further bolster President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Forty tankers loaded about 28 million barrels of oil from Russian export terminals in that week, according to vessel-tracking data and port agent reports collected and analyzed by Bloomberg.

That means that the average seaborne crude flow was 4 million barrels a day, marking a 25 percent increase against the week ended April 15.

One-fifth of the volume shipped from ports on the Black Sea and the Baltic and Arctic coasts is on tankers that do not display a final destination, although the majority are expected to be delivered to Asia, Bloomberg reported.

Almost all of the crude shipments from Russia’s three eastern oil terminals on its Pacific Ocean coast from April 16–22 went to China.

At current rates of crude oil export duty—$61.20 per ton in April 2022, which is equivalent to about $8.30 per barrel—shipments for the week ending April 22 would have provided Moscow with about $232 million, which is $46 million more than the previous week, according to Bloomberg.

The increase in seaborne crude exports for the week ending April 22 may have been prompted, in part, by improved weather conditions compared to the week prior, which saw a backlog of ships build up.

From April 1–22, Russia’s seaborne crude shipments averaged 3.2 million barrels per day, a dramatic increase from the full year of 2021 when they averaged 2.88 million per day.

The data appears to suggest that Russia’s seaborne exports of crude and oil products are resilient to sanctions issued by the West in response to its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.

However, S&P Global said it still expects Russia to lose nearly 3 million barrels per day in Russian crude and product exports in the coming months as countries and companies across the globe shun Russian oil.

The jump in oil exports comes as some European Union countries are pushing for a sixth round of sanctions against Russian oil imports, aimed at preventing the Kremlin from profiting from energy sales.

However, EU officials are being cautious in drawing up such sanctions so as to ensure that they minimize damage to the economies of the 27 member states while still capping Putin’s main source of foreign currency.

Russia is Europe’s biggest oil supplier, providing slightly more than a quarter, or 26 percent, of EU oil imports in 2020, according to data from the bloc’s statistics office, Eurostat.

The latest sanctions—which are yet to be agreed upon by all EU members—could see a gradual “phasing out” of Russian oil, or tariffs imposed on exports beyond a certain price cap.

“We are working on a sixth sanctions package and one of the issues we are considering is some form of an oil embargo,” Valdis Dombrovskis, European Commission executive vice president, told The Times of London on April 25. “When we are imposing sanctions, we need to do so in a way that maximizes pressure on Russia while minimizing collateral damage on ourselves.”

Despite the current sanctions levied against Moscow in the wake of Putin’s “special military operation” in Ukraine, Russia is expected to earn nearly $321 billion from energy exports in 2022, an increase of more than a third from 2021, Bloomberg News reported earlier in April.

Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.