Russia’s seaborne crude shipments slipped back from a seven-month high — but remained above their 52-week average — as flows settled down after a period in which storms and maintenance caused volatility in the nation’s seaborne exports. The drop in shipments saw the weekly flow fall by about 290,000 barrels a day in the week to Feb. 11. That put exports 200,000 barrels a day above the level Moscow has pledged to its OPEC+ partners for the first quarter on a weekly basis. Despite the fall in the weekly figure, the less volatile four-week average rose by about 30,000 barrels a day, putting it very close to the target.

So far, increased pressure from the US Treasury on ships carrying Russian oil appears to be hitting the nation’s vessels and the shadow fleet of aging tankers Moscow relies on — but it doesn’t appear to be curtailing cargo loadings. Since early October, the US has sanctioned 50 Russia-friendly tankers and about half of those appear to have experienced at least some level of disruption. 

Russia has said it will cut oil exports by 500,000 barrels a day below the May-June average during the first quarter after several other members of the OPEC+ group agreed to make further output curbs. The Russian cut will be shared between crude shipments, which will be reduced by 300,000 barrels a day, and refined products. 

Most Russian crude cargoes continue to run the gauntlet of the southern Red Sea, despite attacks on merchant vessels from Yemen-based Houthi rebels. The Houthis assured Russia and China that the group is “ready to ensure the safe passage of their ships in the Red Sea.” However, the Aframax tanker La Pride, hauling a cargo of Urals from the Baltic to China, made a U-turn close to the Bab el-Mandeb Strait on Feb. 7 and remains idling in the Red Sea.

Russia is still struggling to sell its Sokol crude into India, its main market for the grade. Twenty-two cargoes, totaling about 15.5 million barrels, are sitting on tankers that appear to be going nowhere, including four 700,000 barrel cargoes that are awaiting transfer from the shuttle tankers that haul them from Sakhalin Island. Three ships have headed back to India, although only one had offloaded its cargo by Monday, while four have gone to China.

The gross value of Russia’s crude exports slipped to $1.67 billion in the seven days to Feb. 11 from a revised $1.85 billion the previous week. Meanwhile four-week average income rose by $38 million to $1.55 billion a week.

Flows by Destination

Russia’s seaborne crude flows in the four weeks to Feb. 11 edged higher to 3.25 million barrels a day. That was up from a revised 3.21 million barrels a day in the period to Feb. 4. Shipments were about 340,000 barrels a day below the average seen in May and June, or about 40,000 barrels a day below Russia’s first quarter target. Weekly shipments dropped to 3.49 million barrels a day from a revised 3.78 million barrels a day during the period to Feb. 4, which was the highest since July.

The four-week average continues to be affected by the storm that closed Kozmino for five days in the week to Jan. 28 and disruptions to shipments from Ust-Luga caused by a drone strike on a neighboring condensate refinery, followed by several days of maintenance. AS a result, the figure is likely to rise in each of the next two weeks.

About 1.8 million barrels of Russian crude is heading to the Caribbean on a VLCC and is due to arrive at its unspecified destination in the region on Feb. 18, according to navigation signals from the ship.

A fourth cargo is heading to Tema in Ghana, where a new refinery built by Chinese investors has begun refining crude. The plant will initially process 40,000 barrels a day, rising to 100,000 barrels with completion of a second phase, due by the end of 2025.

All figures exclude cargoes identified as Kazakhstan’s KEBCO grade. Those are shipments made by KazTransoil JSC that transit Russia for export through Novorossiysk and the Baltic port of Ust-Luga and are not subject to European Union sanctions or a price cap.

The Kazakh barrels are blended with crude of Russian origin to create a uniform export grade. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Kazakhstan has rebranded its cargoes to distinguish them from those shipped by Russian companies.


Observed shipments to Russia’s Asian customers, including those showing no final destination, edged lower to 2.8 million barrels a day in the four weeks to Feb. 11, down from 2.85 million in the previous four-week period.

About 1.16 million barrels a day of crude was loaded onto tankers heading to China. The Asian nation’s seaborne imports are boosted by about 800,000 barrels a day of crude delivered from Russia by pipeline, either directly, or via Kazakhstan. 

Flows on ships signaling destinations in India averaged about 730,000 barrels a day.

Both the Chinese and Indian figures will rise as the discharge ports become clear for vessels that are not currently showing final destinations.

The equivalent of about 930,000 barrels a day was on vessels signaling Port Said or Suez in Egypt, or are expected to be transferred from one ship to another off the South Korean port of Yeosu. Those voyages typically end at ports in India or China and show up in the chart below as “Unknown Asia” until a final destination becomes apparent. This figure includes about 14 million barrels of Sokol crude originally destined for India that has been stuck on ships since late November. Only one of the three tankers that have headed back toward India has offloaded its cargo.

Several subsequent cargoes of Sokol have been delivered to ports in China. The country typically takes one or two cargoes a month, out of the nine usually loaded. So far, it has taken four of the cargoes loaded in January, while two more await transfer from the shuttle tankers used to haul shipments from the export terminal at De Kastri.

The “Other Unknown” volumes, running at about 115,000 barrels a day in the four weeks to Feb. 11, are those on tankers showing no clear destination. Most of those cargoes originate from Russia’s western ports and go on to transit the Suez Canal, but some could end up in Turkey. Others could be moved from one vessel to another, with most such transfers now taking place in the Mediterranean, off the coast of Greece.

Ship-to-ship transfers of crude in the Laconian Gulf off Greece have picked up after several months of inactivity. The VLCC Ligera, holding about 1.8 million barrels, is heading for the Caribbean after taking on cargoes from two smaller tankers. A second supertanker, Achelous, is heading through the Red Sea to China.

Europe and Turkey

Russia’s seaborne crude exports to European countries have collapsed since Moscow’s troops invaded Ukraine in February 2022. A market that consumed about 1.5 million barrels a day of short-haul seaborne crude, coming from export terminals in the Baltic, Black Sea and Arctic has been lost almost completely, to be replaced by long-haul destinations in Asia that are much more costly and time-consuming to serve.

Flows to Bulgaria appear to have halted at the end of last year, even sooner than the March deadline to end imports approved by Bulgaria’s parliament. That leaves Turkey as the only short-haul market for shipments from Russia’s western ports.

Exports to Turkey were edged lower to about 240,000 barrels a day in the four weeks to Feb. 11. That’s the lowest since September. The recent surge in flows, which took them to more than 440,000 barrels a day in the four weeks to Dec. 12, appears to have waned.

Flows to Bulgaria remained at zero in the most recent four-week period. No cargoes of Russian crude have been delivered to the port of Burgas since the end of 2023.

No Russian crude was shipped to northern European countries, or those in the Mediterranean in the four weeks to Feb. 11.

Vessel-tracking data are cross-checked against port agent reports as well as flows and ship movements reported by other information providers including Kpler and Vortexa Ltd.

Export Value

Following the abolition of export duty on Russian crude, we have begun to track the gross value of seaborne crude exports, using Argus Media price data and our own tanker tracking.

The gross value of Russia’s crude exports slipped to $1.67 billion in the seven days to Feb. 11 from a revised $1.85 billion the previous week. Meanwhile four-week average income rose by $38 million to $1.55 billion a week. The four-week average peaked at $2.17 billion a week in the period to June 19, 2022. The highest it reached last year was $2 billion a week in the period to Oct. 22.

During the first four weeks after the Group of Seven nations’ price cap on Russian crude exports came into effect in early December 2022, the value of seaborne flows fell to a low of $930 million a week, but soon recovered.

The chart above shows a gross value of Russia’s seaborne oil exports on a weekly and four-week average basis. The value is calculated by multiplying the average weekly crude price from Argus Media Group by the weekly export flow from each port. For shipments from the Baltic and Arctic ports we use the Urals FOB Primorsk dated, London close, midpoint price. For shipments from the Black Sea we use the Urals Med Aframax FOB Novorossiysk dated, London close, midpoint price. For Pacific shipments we use the ESPO blend FOB Kozmino prompt, Singapore close, midpoint price.

Export duty was abolished at the end of 2023 as part of Russia’s long-running tax reform plans.

Ships Leaving Russian Ports

The following table shows the number of ships leaving each export terminal.

A total of 32 tankers loaded 24.4 million barrels of Russian crude in the week to Feb. 11, vessel-tracking data and port agent reports show. That was down by about 2.1 million barrels from the revised figure for the previous week.

Shipments from Russia’s two main export terminals, Primorsk on the Baltic and Kozmino on the Pacific, slipped back from the highs seen the previous week.

All figures exclude cargoes identified as Kazakhstan’s KEBCO grade. One cargo of KEBCO was loaded at Ust-Luga and one at Novorossiysk during the week.


Note: This story forms part of a weekly series tracking shipments of crude from Russian export terminals and the gross value of those flows. Weeks run from Monday to Sunday. The next update will be on Tuesday, Feb. 20. 

Note: All figures exclude cargoes owned by Kazakhstan’s KazTransOil JSC, which transit Russia and are shipped from Novorossiysk and Ust-Luga as KEBCO grade crude.