China has significantly boosted oil imports from Russia, while the latter has been selling less crude to Europe. An analyst told RT that Beijing has become a more preferable partner in the oil trade for Moscow.
RT’s source in Russia’s largest oil exporter Transneft has said that since January 1, the country is pumping more oil to China, while exports to Europe have plunged. Earlier, Bloomberg reported that Russia will have shipped 19 percent less oil through its ports on the Baltic and Black Seas in the first five months of 2018, and sold 43 percent more oil to China through March.
Russia is the largest seller of oil to both Europe and China. An analyst interviewed by RT has said that shipping more crude to Asia can be regarded as a defensive mechanism in the time of Western sanctions. “Given the current geopolitical conditions, the shift towards China from Europe is a protective measure. This shift in oil trade allows the Russian Federation to some extent to secure the oil industry from the sanctions of the West,” said Anton Pokatovich, chief analyst of Binbank.
The Chinese economy has been developing at a high pace, and selling more oil is also profitable for economic reasons as well, the analyst explains. China is the largest buyer of oil, and has been increasing its imports. “This perspective makes the Chinese energy market one of the most desired for Russian exporters,” he told RT. Russia supplied 5.052 million tons, or 1.32 million barrels per day (bpd), to China in February – up 17.8 percent from a year earlier.
The increase in volume happened as a result of a second Sino-Russian oil pipeline, which began operations on January 1. It doubled China’s capacity to pump oil from the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean (ESPO) system. ESPO connects Russia and China with a direct pipeline. With the launch of oil futures in renminbi, both China and Russia have said they could reduce the use of the US dollar in oil trade.