Diversion of Russia’s crude exports to Asia is gathering pace, with record volumes heading on tankers to the region’s ports. The need to switch is becoming more acute as a ban looms on seaborne imports into Europe, which was previously Moscow’s core export market.
Two-thirds of crude loaded onto tankers at Russian ports is now heading to Asia. That compares with less than two-fifths in the weeks before Vladimir Putin ordered his troops into Ukraine in February. China and India form the backbone of the trade, with minor volumes heading to places like Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates.
European Union sanctions, which will halt almost all seaborne crude deliveries from Russia to the bloc’s members, will come into force in just three weeks’ time. The measures will also bar European tankers from hauling Russian crude and prohibit the provision of insurance, brokerage, finance, vessel classification and other services. There will be exemptions for vessels carrying cargoes that were purchased at a price below a yet-to-be-agreed cap.