• Six European countries paid Russia $40 billion for fuel in the three months of the war, despite impending bans and sanctions on imports

    Six European buyers accounted for almost half of the revenues Russia banked from its fossil fuel exports in the first 100 days of the war in Ukraine, even as the European Union was outlining a plan to ban imports from the country, according to recent analysis by a Finnish thinktank.

    France, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Poland, and Belgium were the top European buyers of Russian fossil fuel exports, including coal, crude oil, natural gas and oil products on the spot market between March and May, according to according to the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA)

    The spot market is where traders buy and sell physical cargoes of oil, for example, for immediate delivery, as opposed to the futures market, where they seal a price for delivery at some point further ahead.

    “These purchases take place outside of pre-existing contracts, therefore always representing an active purchase decision,” CREA wrote in its analysis.

    European commodity traders have actively shunned Russian cargoes of crude oil and refined products, while most natural gas imports arrive via pipeline and are more difficult to avoid.

    In total, those countries shelled out a combined total of $40 billion of the roughly $97 billion Russia pocketed for its fossil fuel exports in that time, CREA said.

    Record discounts

    Russian oil is cheaper than other grades right now, as Western sanctions and traders avoiding those exports have cut the value of its flagship Urals crude.

    A barrel of Urals crude currently trades at a record $30 discount to the global Brent crude benchmark, which stood at about $120 a barrel on Friday, near its highest in a decade.

    To that end, sales of cheap Russian oil and gas are expected to hit $285 billion in 2022 — a 20% increase from its profits from oil and gas in 2021, according to Bloomberg Economics. It’s down to Chinese and Indian purchases of Russian oil, which now account for half of Russia’s seaborne oil exports.

    And while demand from China has remained consistent, India has ramped up its buying, to the tune of around 800,000 barrels a day, compared to next to nothing as recently as January.

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