Russia is still Europe's largest diesel supplier despite the EU reducing its reliance on Russian fuel by 50 percent following Moscow's February attack on Ukraine,

The European Union will ban Russian oil product imports, on which it relies heavily for its diesel, by February 5.
The European Union will ban Russian oil product imports, on which it relies heavily for its diesel, by February 5. (Reuters Archive)

As alternative oil sources remain limited, European traders have been hoarding Russian diesel before a EU ban begins in February.

The European Union will ban Russian oil product imports on February 5, which will follow a ban on Russian crude taking effect in December.

Russian diesel loadings destined for the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA) storage region rose to 215,000 bpd from November 1 to November 12, up by 126 percent from October, Pamela Munger, senior market analyst at energy analytics firm Vortexa, said.

With few immediate cost-effective alternatives, diesel from Russia has made up 44 percent of Europe's total imports of road fuel so far in November, compared with 39 percent in October, Refinitiv data shows.

Although Europe's reliance on the Russian fuel has fallen from more than 50 percent before Moscow's February attack against Ukraine, Russia is still the continent's largest diesel supplier.

"The EU will have to secure around 500-600 kb/d of diesel to replace the Russian volumes, replacements will come from the US as well as east of Suez, primarily the Middle East and India," Eugene Lindell, refining and products market analyst at FGE, said.

The Russian gasoil heading into ARA tanks is likely to be used or sold quickly as a result of backwardation in Ice gasoil futures, where the current value is higher than it will be in later months, Lars van Wageningen, at Dutch consultancy Insights Global, said.

Part of the influx comes as ICE Futures Europe bans low-sulphur gasoil of Russian origin ahead of EU sanctions.

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Low storage levels, declining delivered volumes

From Nov. 30, traders must prove to ICE that no Russian product has entered any tanks in the wider ARA region - including Flushing and Ghent - that will be used for January delivery through the ICE futures contract.

Russian gasoil can still arrive in ARA storage tanks in December, but it must be moved to other tanks from which no delivery can be made, according to ICE.

Some market players expect little impact from the ICE move given low storage levels in the ARA for both Russian and non-Russian gasoil as well as declining delivered volumes.

"Volumes delivered upon expiry are actually pretty small ... it just adds an extra layer of logistical challenge," Neil Crosby, senior analyst at oil analytics firm OilX, said.

In January 2022, 70,000 tonnes of gasoil were delivered through the Ice gasoil futures exchange's website shows.

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Source: Reuters