Russian Oil Exports to Asia Unaffected by Coronavirus Outbreak, Data Shows

Russia’s oil exports to Asia were almost unchanged in February amid the coronavirus outbreak, a sign which analysts say could limit the country’s motivation to back deep production cuts when the OPEC+ alliance meets this week, Bloomberg reported.

Russia’s eastbound crude-oil exports reached 1.842 million barrels a day in February, according to Bloomberg calculations based on data from the Energy Ministry’s CDU-TEK unit, cited by Interfax and Sova Capital Research. The flows showed a 1.1% decline on January, mainly because pipeline supplies to China under long-term deals slipped to 794,700 barrels a day from 828,400 a day.

Russia, OPEC’s key ally, has sent mixed signals to its partners on the possibility of further output curb as the virus threatens to become a pandemic and slow the global economy. President Vladimir Putin insisted on Sunday that Russia will cooperate with OPEC+ to balance the oil market, yet said current prices are “acceptable” for the country. Saudi Arabia’s energy minister last month compared the outbreak to a blaze that needs the fire brigade.

Oil shipments from the Pacific port of Kozmino grew 2.5% to 662,600 barrels a day, the data showed. About 70% of Kozmino shipments end up in China under spot contracts, with the remainder going to countries including Japan and South Korea, according to Russian pipeline operator Transneft PJSC. Other than China, these Asian nations are among the most affected by the virus.

Russia also sends crude to Asian markets from its Sakhalin projects operating under production-sharing agreements. Total exports from Sakhalin in Russia’s Far East were little changed at 385,100 barrels a day last month.

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