What Will Happen to Russian Crude After the EU Ban Takes Effect?

Oil markets are bracing for an unprecedented shift in global oil trade flows, as nearly 3 million barrels per day (bpd) of Russian crude will have to be diverted to non-European markets after the EU’s ban on Russian oil takes effect. The bloc will ban crude imports from Russia by Dec. 5 and oil products by Feb. 5 in a bid to deprive Moscow of oil revenues, which will send one of the world’s top oil producers and exporters to look for alternative buyers. Meanwhile, G7 plans to keep Russian oil accessible and minimize supply disruptions that could cause prices to spike by imposing a price cap on Russian exports.

As a result of the EU ban, Russian oil is expected to be redirected to Asia and the Middle East, while Asian production would be exported to Europe.

However, about 2 million bpd of Russian crude and 1 million bpd of products will have to be routed somewhere else, putting a strain on the shipping sector.

The average voyage for Russian oil exports to Europe is about seven days and if the export comes to Asia, it will be three times longer at 21 days, which corresponds to a 3% increase in shipping activity.

A major challenge for traders will be the shortage of smaller Aframax tankers required to load oil from Russian ports. The number of Aframaxes needed will increase by 10%, or around 70 more tankers.

Moreover the bottlenecks will become even worse because of the sanctions that affect European shipping companies, insurers and financial service providers by preventing them from being involved in the trade of Russian oil into other regions.

The world could end up with fewer supplies if countries decide not to buy the Russian oil because of political reasons.

One key buyer could be Indonesia, which is considering buying Russian crude. The government is still assessing technicalities on the suitability of the crude for its refining systems and payment mechanism.

Indonesia’s energy minister previously said the government was open to buying cheap oil from any country, though it had yet to buy Russian oil.

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