The United States and the European Union have been unwilling to put sanctions on Russian energy exports in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine. But some oil traders appear to have concluded that buying oil from Russia is just not worth the trouble.
One of the three top oil producers in the world, after the United States and Saudi Arabia, Russia provides roughly 10 percent of the global supply. But in recent days traders and European refineries have greatly reduced their purchases of Russian oil. Some have stopped altogether.
Buyers are pulling back because they or the shipping companies, banks and insurance companies they use are worried about running afoul of Western sanctions in place now or those that might come later, energy experts said. Others are worried that shipments could be hit by missiles, and some just don’t want to risk being seen as bankrolling the government of President Vladimir V. Putin.
Russian exporters have been offering the country’s highest-quality oil at a discount of up to $20 a barrel in recent days but have found few buyers, analysts said. Buyers, in Europe in particular, have been switching to Middle Eastern oil, a decision that has helped drive oil prices above $100 a barrel for the first time since 2014. [Continue reading…]