Russian Diesel Exports Rise As Refineries Return From Maintenance

Russia’s diesel and gasoil exports by sea increased by 5% in July compared to June as more refining capacity in Russia returned from seasonal maintenance, Reuters reported on Tuesday, citing data from trade sources and vessel tracking.   

Turkey, North Africa, Brazil, and the Middle East are now the key markets for Russia’s seaborne diesel exports after the EU imposed an embargo on those imports on February 5. Around 1 million barrels per day (bpd) of Russian diesel, naphtha, and other fuels are needed to find a home elsewhere after the embargo – and it appears that they have.

Russia is now selling nearly half of its seaborne diesel exports to Turkey, a large part goes to Latin America in Brazil, and another portion – to North Africa and the Middle East. Some of the diesel and gasoil exports in July were bound for ship-to-ship (STS) transfers near the Greek port of Kalamata, according to ship-tracking data from Refinitiv cited by Reuters. The final destination of those STS transfers of diesel would be either Turkey or the Middle East, traders told Reuters.

Earlier this year, North Africa became a key export outlet of Russia’s diesel and other petroleum products after the EU embargo on imports of Russian fuels took effect in early February. African countries in the Mediterranean, as well as Turkey, had started taking in more Russian fuels even before the Western ban.

African buyers have also replaced European customers of Russia’s gasoline exports. Russian gasoline exports surged in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2022, as Moscow placed growing volumes of fuels with African customers after the EU embargo. Russia is also boosting exports of its diesel to Latin America.

The trade shift in Russian oil flows also benefits Moscow’s Middle Eastern allies in the OPEC+ pact as the biggest Arab Gulf oil producers, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), scoop up Russia’s fuels at discounted prices.