World, Economy

Russia exports 91% of its crude oil to China, India in March as trade routes shift

Moscow shipped 3.08M bpd of crude oil to China and India last month, data shows

Nuran Erkul  | 05.04.2023 - Update : 06.04.2023
Russia exports 91% of its crude oil to China, India in March as trade routes shift


China and India accounted for 91% of Russia’s crude oil exports in March as Western sanctions led the country to almost totally shift its trade routes from Europe to Asia, according to data from energy analytics company Vortexa compiled by Anadolu.

Russia's oil and oil products exports totaled 6.75 million barrels per day (bpd) in March, rebounding from lower levels impacted by the sanctions since the start of the war in Ukraine.

Its crude oil exports, meanwhile, reached 3.38 million bpd out of the total in March, the highest level seen in the last 10 months.

Moscow found new ports for its crude oil and oil products especially in Asia after starting to lose its biggest export destination, Europe, due to the sanctions.

China's crude oil imports from Russia hit 1.65 million bpd last month, overtaking India as the largest buyer of Russian crude. China imported 1.1 million bpd of crude from Russia in February.

China's crude oil purchases from Russia have stood at over 1 million bpd since May 2022 while it remained below this level only in December 2022 with 769,790 bpd.

India, who has been buying high amounts of discounted Russian crude since the start of the war, imported 1.43 million bpd in March.

India's crude oil imports from Russia have seen a dramatic uptick in the last year. Crude oil shipments from Russia to India jumped from 68,000 bpd in March 2022 to 1.43 million bpd in March this year, growing more than twentyfold.

Sanctions reflect on shipments to Europe

Russia exported 89,500 bpd of crude to Bulgaria, 59,860 bpd to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), 56,417 bpd to Türkiye and 29,338 bpd to Europe, including the European Union, Norway, Switzerland, and the UK.

Türkiye's crude oil imports from Russia saw a dramatic fall last month from its 243,000 bpd level in February.

Data shows the EU's sanctions largely reflected on Russia's exports to Europe as shipments were sharply lower compared to pre-war levels.

Europe's crude oil imports from Russia before the war were above 1.5 million bpd. They stood at 507,000 bpd in November 2022, just before the ban on Russian seaborne crude kicked off on Dec. 5, 2022.

The EU imposed an embargo on seaborne imports of Russian crude oil beginning Dec. 5, the same day that the EU and G-7 agreed to place an oil price cap of $60 per barrel on Russian crude.

Asia buys half of Russian oil products

Russia's oil products exports last month reached 3.37 million bpd, while diesel and gasoline accounted for 1.55 million bpd out of this total. Fuel oil exports were the second-highest at 866,000 bpd.

The Asian region imported 1.65 million bpd of oil products from Russia in March, making up 49% of all Russian oil products exports.

Russia shipped 241,000 bpd of oil products to China and 204,000 bpd to India. Both countries' oil products imports from Russia were around 80,000 bpd in March 2022 and have continued to increase since then.

Türkiye also emerged as one of the biggest buyers of Russian oil products with 454,170 bpd in March, more than double compared to 187,000 bpd in March 2022.

Europe, which imported between 1.2 million to 1.6 million bpd of oil products from Russia before the war, dramatically reduced oil products shipments from Russia after the EU's ban on imports of Russian diesel, jet fuel and other oil products that came into effect on Feb. 5 this year.

Europe bought 58,633 bpd of oil products from Russia last month compared with 965,000 bpd in January, just before the EU ban kicked off.

Russia's oil products exports shift to multiple regions

Russia's oil products export destinations, however, have seen a different shift compared to crude oil destinations.

As Europe has been the only region seeing a drop in Russian oil products shipments, the Middle East, North Africa and Latin America along with Asia have increased oil products imports from Russia since the war.

Middle East's imports of Russian oil products rose from 54,000 bpd in March 2022 to 387,257 bpd in March this year.

North Africa's purchases of oil products from Russia jumped to 318,564 bpd last month from 35,215 bpd in the same month of 2022.

Latin America also imported 133,561 bpd of oil products from Russia in March, up from 93,780 bpd in March 2022.

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