West Arctic Ocean emerges as major source of crude for India

A new source of Russian crude has emerged for India – the West Arctic Ocean.

This new activity which has only been seen this year, started around March on aframax and suezmax tankers, as data from energy analytics firm Vortexa shows (see chart below).

Aframax tonne-miles out of the West Arctic Ocean were typically directed towards Europe, something that has changed in the months following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Given the short distance from Murmansk to Kola Bay (where ship-to-ship transfers can occur), even if we see more ice in the Arctic this winter, Russia’s current ice-class fleet will likely still be able to accommodate these flows via STS. Thus, independent of the weather, this new route could further support utilisation of Aframax and Suezmax tankers going forward,” an update from Vortexa stated.

Russia’s switch of crude shipments from west to east has been a topic covered by Splash in detail all year.

According to S&P Global Commodity Insights, Russia’s seaborne crude exports to Asia increased by around 31% year-on-year to an average 1.6m barrels per day in the first 10 months of 2022. While China’s seaborne crude inflows from Russia surged by 36% year-on-year to an average of 780,000 barrels per day in the January to October period, India’s buying from Russia jumped to 450,000 barrels per day during the same period, compared with 90,000 barrels per day in the same period a year earlier.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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