Russia avoids most of the G7 oil sanctions on its exports

By bne IntelliNews September 26, 2023

Russia has managed to avoid G7 sanctions on most of its oil exports, a development that will bolster the Kremlin's revenues as crude oil prices surge towards $100 per barrel, the Financial Times reported on September 24. 

In August, almost three-quarters of all seaborne Russian crude flows did not involve western insurance, which is used to enforce the G7's $60-a-barrel oil price cap, according to an analysis of shipping and insurance records by the FT.

This represents a significant increase from about 50% in the spring, indicating that Moscow is becoming more adept at bypassing the cap, allowing it to sell more oil at prices closer to international market rates.

The Kyiv School of Economics estimates that this shift, combined with Russia's success in reducing the discount on its oil, will result in at least $15bn higher oil revenues for the country in 2023.

These developments pose a challenge to Western efforts to limit Russia's oil sales revenues, which constitute a significant portion of the Kremlin's budget. Not only is a higher proportion of Russian oil being sold outside the cap, but Moscow's increasing independence as a seller coincides with a strong rally in oil prices.

While Russia's oil sector still faces challenges, including domestic fuel shortages and a dip in export volumes, the figures indicate that more oil revenues will flow into the Kremlin's coffers. This trend may make it increasingly difficult to enforce the price cap effectively in the future, according to experts.

Despite some obstacles, Russia's "dark fleet" of oil tankers operating without Western insurance or services has allowed Moscow to command higher prices for its oil as the global market tightens.

The average price of Russia's main export grade, Urals, has exceeded $60 a barrel since July and was $78.3 per barrel as of September 25.

Western-backed shipping has declined, partly due to wariness among shipowners and insurers. Russia's recent ban on diesel exports may temporarily affect revenues but could lead to higher prices for lower volumes.

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