Russia has been selling fuel at knock-down prices after international sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine. However, Riyadh has maintained its cooperation with Moscow in the alliance of global producers known as OPEC+.
According to the Middle East Economic Survey (MEES), Saudi Aramco has signed a contract with the Litasco trading arm of Russia’s Lukoil which will see it take regular delivery of cargoes of Russian high-sulphur fuel oil (HSFO) throughout 2022.
The kingdom imported 251,000 barrels per day (b/d) of fuel oil in June, according to trade flows from data intelligence firm Kpler. Imports are at the highest since April 2021, when Saudi Arabia imported 277,000b/d.
MEES reported that 203,000b/d came from three facilities that have taken large volumes of Russian oil recently for re-export. Tallinn in Estonia, Ain Sukhna in Egypt and Fujairah in the UAE. Saudi Arabia took 13,000b/d directly from Russia, for a total of 216,000b/d, or 86.1 percent of total imports.
Saudi fuel imports from Egypt spiked to a record 86,000bpd in June, followed by the United Arab Emirates at 64,000b/d, while Estonia followed with 53,000b/d.
“There are no international sanctions prohibiting such trades, and Saudi Arabia has made it clear that it continues to prioritize its relations with Moscow,” MEES said.