Refinery maintenance and a surge in domestic demand cut into volumes available for export © Getty Images / Westend61

Shipments of Russian seaborne diesel and gasoil dropped by 21% in May in monthly terms due to seasonal maintenance at the country’s refineries and a surge in domestic demand, tracking data from Refinitiv Eikon showed on Friday.

In May, about 5 million tons of refinery capacity stood idle, which is more than the 4.5 million tons that had been planned. The reason for the reduced refinery runs is that maintenance at several refineries has taken longer than previously expected, according to Reuters.

The EU embargo on Russian oil products prompted Moscow to redirect its trade flows, with diesel cargoes now heading to Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and ship-to-ship (STS) loadings being used instead deliveries to Europe.

Diesel exports totaled 3.1 million tons last month, with the bulk of cargos destined for Türkiye and Brazil, as traders push into new markets. Between January and May, Russia sent 5.2 million tons of the fuel to Türkiye and 1.6 million tons to Brazil, according to Refinitiv. These figures represent a substantial increase compared to the entire 2022, when 5 million tons and 74,000 tons were delivered to Türkiye and Brazil, respectively.

Russian diesel exports to African countries were also slightly down in May, totaling about 500,000 tons compared to 900,000 tons in April, with Togo, Libya and Tunisia being the main importers, according to ship tracking data.

Supplies to Türkiye slipped to 900,000 tons last month, from 1.2 million tons delivered in April.

Indian imports of Russian oil hit a new record in May Indian imports of Russian oil hit a new record in May

About 325,000 tons of diesel loaded from Russian ports in May were destined for ship-to-ship transfers near the Greek city of Kalamata. Most of the cargo did not have a confirmed destination. These shipments were likely heading to Asia or the Middle East, traders told Reuters.

According to Refinitiv shipping data, diesel loadings from Russian ports to Saudi Arabia totaled about 95,000 tons last month, after 383,400 tons were loaded in April. Another 170,000 tons were heading to Fujairah, the major transit and blending hub for oil products in the United Arab Emirates.

The reduction in fuel exports comes amid a cut in Russia’s oil production announced in February. Moscow pledged to voluntarily curtail oil output by 500,000 barrels per day starting in March. The move followed a Western-imposed price ceiling of $60 per barrel, a mechanism that Moscow views as unacceptable.

Data from the commodity tracking company Kpler indicated in May that Russian state energy companies were fulfilling the obligation to cut output.

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