MOSCOW: Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, more than doubled the amount of Russian fuel oil it imported in the second quarter to fuel power plants to meet summer cooling demand and free up the kingdom’s crude for export, according to data and traders. .
Russia has been selling fuel at cut prices after international sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine left it with fewer buyers. Moscow calls the war in Ukraine a “special military operation”.
Rising sales of fuel oil, used in power generation, to Saudi Arabia show the challenge US President Joe Biden faces as his administration seeks to isolate Russia and cut its export revenues from ‘energy.
While many countries have banned or discouraged purchases from Russia, China, India and several countries in Africa and the Middle East have increased their imports.
Biden was on a visit to Saudi Arabia on Friday and was expected to seek increased oil supplies to world markets from the kingdom to help bring down oil prices that have fueled inflation around the world.
There is little spare capacity for Saudi Arabia and others to increase production in the short term. Saudi Arabia has also maintained cooperation with Russia as part of the global producer alliance known as OPEC+. The two are the de facto leaders of OPEC and non-OPEC producers respectively in this group.
Data obtained by Reuters Through Refinitiv Eikon vessel tracking, Saudi Arabia imported 647,000 tonnes (48,000 barrels per day) of fuel oil from Russia through Russian and Estonian ports in April-June this year. This was up from 320,000 tonnes in the same period a year ago.
For the year 2021, Saudi Arabia imported 1.05 million tons of Russian fuel oil.
The Saudi and Russian energy ministries declined to comment on the increase in imports.
Posted in Dawn, July 16, 2022