Russia Eases Harsh Weather Restrictions to Boost Oil Exports

January 29, 2024

© Igor Groshev / Adobe Stock
© Igor Groshev / Adobe Stock

Russian ports are operating during more severe storms and easing restrictions for non ice-class vessels during winter, traders said and regulations showed, in an attempt to boost exports following disruptions from Western sanctions and harsh weather.

Following the European Union oil embargo, Russia has to rely mostly on seaborne loadings, rather than westbound pipeline supplies via the Druzhba pipeline.

Traders and analysts said the easing of restrictions carried technical and ecological risks, but could help Russia's revenues that are heavily reliant on oil.

Russian pipeline monopoly Transneft, which controls pipelines and oil terminals, is seeking to optimise its storm notification system in the Black Sea's Novorossiisk port to increase time for loadings ahead and after a storm, its head Nikolay Tokarev said in an interview for the company's magazine.

Three traders involved in Russian oil exports said ports had received unofficial recommendations to continue loadings during storms and ease controls regarding ice as much as possible to allow more tankers in the ports.

The traders asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the situation.

One of them said loading had continued at Novorossiisk when waves were two-to-three metres (6.56-9.84 ft) high, compared with the official limit of one and a half metres for a vessel to moor.

Russia's Ministry of Energy and Ministry of Transport did not immediately reply to Reuters' requests for comment.

Russia has also eased ice class restrictions for tankers entering its Baltic ports, including the main export outlets Primorsk and Ust-Luga, the traders said, citing a lack of available tankers for Russian oil as a result of the G7 countries' price cap.

Some major Greek shippers stopped transporting Russian oil last year as the United States increased scrutiny of implementation of the price cap.

The revised regulations allow tankers that are not designed to navigate through sea ice to enter ports with ice breaker assistance when ice is between 15 and 30 centimetres (5.91-11.81 inches) thick.

While the oil industry pursues higher exports, a senior Russian ecology official said at the weekend Russia would remain vigilant.

"We are not going to ease our requirements (for oil loadings from ports) under the law," Viktoria Abramchenko, Russian deputy prime minister in charge of ecology matters, told reporters.

In 2022, the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) was fined by Rostransnadzor, the service supervising transport security, for breaking ecological requirements.


(Reuters - Reporting by Reuters; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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