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Russian Oil Hidden Big Buyers: Saudi Arabia and UAE to Buy Russian Oil at Low Prices and then Sell at High Prices to Europe

iconApr 19, 2023 11:13
Source:财联社
Despite the sanctions imposed by the US-led Western countries, Russian crude oil sales are still pleasing.

Despite the sanctions imposed by the US-led Western countries, Russian crude oil sales are still pleasing. In addition to India, a major buyer, the two major oil producers Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are also actively buying Russian oil.

India is the world's third largest consumer of crude oil. It is not surprising that it takes the opportunity to purchase Russian oil in large quantities, then why do Saudi Arabia and the UAE also want to import Russian oil? They purchase low-priced Russian oil for their own consumption, while the crude oil produced in both countries is exported to Europe at a high price.

Russian oil exports to the UAE more than tripled last year to a record 60 million barrels, according to Kpler, a commodities data provider. By comparison, Russian oil exports to Singapore rose just 13 percent to 26 million barrels last year.

According to Kpler, Russia now exports an average of 100,000 barrels per day to Saudi Arabia, which equates to more than 36 million barrels per year, compared to almost zero before the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

The prices of Urals crude oil, the flagship product of Russian crude oil exports, are more than 30 percent lower than Brent crude due to price caps and other sanctions imposed by the West.

Arbitrage opportunities for Gulf countries are even more pronounced in refined products such as naphtha, fuel oil and diesel.

Over the past year, Saudi Arabia has increased its diesel exports to France and Italy, two countries that previously relied heavily on Russia for motor fuel, according to Kpler data.

Kpler analyst Viktor Katona noted that Saudi Arabia's imports of discounted fuel from Russia have largely met demand in its domestic market, and the country has been able to free up large amounts of diesel for export to other regions.

Ignoring US Opposition

According to media resports, US officials are concerned about Saudi Arabia and the UAE's oil trade with Russia, which they believe undermines the original purpose of Western sanctions against Russian oil, which is to limit the revenue Russia earns from exporting oil.

The Group of Seven (G7), the European Union and Australia imposed a $60 per barrel price cap on Russian crude oil from December 5 last year. The EU also banned imports of Russian seaborne oil from the same time.

Despite US opposition, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are importing discounted Russian oil, both for consumption and refining, and exporting their own oil at market prices to make a profit.

It is worth noting that the prices of Urals crude are approaching the $60/barrel ceiling.

As of April 6, the prices of Urals crude shipped from the Baltic ports of Primorsk and Novorossiysk on the Black Sea was about $55/barrel, according to Argos data. That figure is still significantly lower than the prices of Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, which is currently trading at nearly $85/barrel.

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