Russia has hiked exports of crude from Kozmino, its key port in the Far East, because of surging demand for oil from countries in Asia and sanctions imposed by the European Union, industry sources say.
Transneft, the Russian state-controlled pipeline company, has ramped up the amount of oil being pumped west to Kozmino via the East Siberia Pacific Ocean (ESPO) pipeline by about 20%, the sources said.
Russia is able to pump an additional 70,000 barrels per day via the pipeline, by using chemical additives to speed up oil flows, they said.
This was a cheaper way to reroute its energy exports to Asia and avoids expensive tanker voyages from European ports and sanctions imposed because of Moscow’s invasion in Ukraine.
Transneft did not immediately reply to requests for comment.
Moscow also plans to send an extra 80,000 bpd of so-called ESPO Blend crude to Kozmino via rail from Meget, a route previously used to supply the port and domestic refineries when the ESPO pipeline was being built, the sources said.
The additional supplies will allow Kozmino to increase overall loadings to some 900,000 bpd in the months ahead, from an average of around 750,000 bpd so far this year, they added. In 2021, the port loaded about 720,000 bpd (35.1 million tonnes).
ESPO oil exports via Kozmino are likely to reach an all-time high of around 880,000 bpd in July, two of the sources said.
The EU announced an embargo on Russian oil last week, saying it would stop imports of 90% of oil and products from Russia from the end of the year.
China, India Buying More
Companies in China, which has repeatedly criticised Western sanctions on Moscow, and in India have been buying more Russian oil in recent months amid a fall in prices.
The ESPO pipeline, which connects Russia‘s Siberian oil fields to Kozmino and Chinese costumers by land, has an overall capacity of 1.64 million bpd.
Kozmino currently has the capacity to handle loadings of up to 1.1 million bpd, one of the sources said, but limited pipeline and rail capacity won’t allow it to reach that level without further construction work.
The increase in oil loadings from Kozmino may force it to use more Suezmax vessels, which typically carry 800,000-1 million barrels each. It normally loads Aframax vessels carrying 500,000-750,000 barrels, considered more popular with buyers.
• Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard