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More Russian Oil Deeply Discounted As Load Port Ban Risk Alarms Buyers

Bloomberg
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March 8, 2022

By Tsuyoshi Inajima (Bloomberg) A cargo of Russian Sokol oil from the Far East was offered at a steep discount as the nation’s invasion of Ukraine and the prospect of a crude import ban makes buyers cautious about dealing with its oil.

A trading house offered a May-loading cargo that will ship from the eastern port of De-Kastri at a discount as wide as $14 a barrel to the benchmark Dubai price, said people with knowledge of the matter. That’s drastically lower than last week when Trafigura Group offered Sokol at a premium of $1 a barrel. 

The deep discount comes as the Middle Eastern Dubai price marker slumped relative to London’s Brent crude, further devaluing the shipment. There were no immediate trades or deals involving the cargo, which was showed privately by the trading house to Asian refiners in the spot market, the people said. That follows a similar pattern to most buyers shunning Russia’s flagship Urals, despite also being offered at attractive levels. 

Traders and refiners are growing increasingly wary of Russian crude as the U.S. considers harsher penalties against the OPEC+ producer. While buyers have been wary of taking crude from western ports in the Baltic and Black Seas, citing safety concerns, apprehension is now spreading to eastern ports of De-Kastri and Kozmino as potential sanctions could implicate all Russian exports regardless of load ports.

Last Friday, Shell Plc’s move to purchase a cargo of Urals at a record discount was met with a barrage of criticism. The London-based company later said it will navigate the market with government’s guidance. Other oil giants such as BP Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp. earlier pledged to exit Russia, while TotalEnergies SE said its traders will no longer buy the nation’s crude.

By Tsuyoshi Inajima and Serene Cheong with assistance from Sharon Cho. © 2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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