Rosneft shifts oil product exports towards smaller traders

US sanctions pushed Rosneft to pivot from key trading houses to their smaller counterparts to avoid potential problems with oil product exports. As a result, three mid-size traders have accounted for the third of the company’s seaborne exports so far in 2020.

Small traders gained Rosneft oil product exports after sanctions, reports Reuters. Shipping data shows that the Russian oil giant has sold more than a third of its seaborne oil product exports to small trading firms so far this year. Rosneft changed its decade-long strategy of sales to top trading houses and oil majors after the United States imposed sanctions on the company prompting it to look for ways to diversify its pool of customers.

Rosneft sells its products through annual tenders and exports mostly by sea. According to the shipping data and Reuters’ calculations, trading firms Cetracore, Mercantile & Maritime and Petrocas, which has recently won the right to lift significant amounts of Rosneft’s oil products, accounted for 36% of the company’s seaborne oil product exports in the first nine months of 2020.

Cetracore Energy became the second-largest buyer of Rosneft’s seaborne oil product exports after Trafigura, a major multinational trader, with about 18% of this year’s volume. The trader buys from Rosneft mostly fuel oil and diesel as well as petrol from the port of Arkhangelsk. Petrocas Energy Group, which buys ultra-low sulphur diesel loading from Baltic Primorsk and Black Sea Novorossiisk and resells it to trading firms and Mediterranean buyers, has purchased about 10% of Rosneft’s oil product exports so far in 2020. Mercantile & Maritime used to cooperate with Rosneft in shipping and trading in European and Middle Eastern markets. It secured term oil product supplies from Rosneft at the end of 2019 by winning several term tenders for oil product. This year, its loadings have totalled about 8% of Rosneft seaborne oil product exports. The trader exports naphtha from the port of Tuapse and the ports of Nakhodka and Vostochniy in eastern Russia as well as vacuum gas oil in the Black Sea region.

The three traders’ combined purchases slightly exceeded the volume purchased by Trafigura, which amounted to 35%. Only 7% of Rosneft’s seaborne exports has been supplied to the company’s partner and shareholder BP this year, while Glencore and Vitol have accounted for 3% and 2% respectively.

By Anna Litvina