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Russian crude oil is being diverted to the UAE as a result of sanctions

According to ship monitoring data and trading sources, the United Arab Emirates has started taking more cargoes of Russian crude oil, illustrating how Western sanctions on Russia have altered traditional energy trade routes.

Russia has been exporting crude and refined products at reduced rates as a result of international sanctions imposed in response to its invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow describes as a "special military operation," which has left it with fewer consumers.

The initiative also demonstrates Russia's growing cooperation with big Gulf oil producers such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Gulf Arab states have rejected American demands to isolate Russia and pump additional oil to assist replace Russian supply after it was sanctioned by the West.

It is unclear when the UAE began buying Russian crude, but tanker tracking data shows that amounts have increased in the aftermath of Russia's February 2022 invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing Western sanctions on Moscow.

According to ship monitoring data, around 1.5 million barrels of Russian crude have been shipped to the UAE - one of the world's largest oil producers in its own right - since November 2022, with levels commencing or increasing since early 2022.

The first shipment of Russian crude to the UAE was in 2019, according to data from energy analytics firm Kpler, although shipments accelerated after April 2022, with a pause between July and October 2022.

According to Refinitiv Eikon statistics, the first Russian crude cargo to the country was in 2022, with levels peaking in April 2022.

The UAE and Russian energy ministries did not respond to calls for comment on the data right away.


Saudi Arabia has been importing large amounts of Russian fuel oil to use in its power plants, freeing up more crude for exports. Before, only one shipment of Russian crude to the UAE was reported.

China, India, and several African and Middle Eastern countries have also expanded their imports of Russian crude and products, despite the fact that many countries have outlawed or discouraged such purchases.

The UAE has also maintained collaboration with Russia in the OPEC+ coalition, which includes the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies.

According to Eikon ship tracking data obtained by Reuters, a shipment of Russian crude landed at the UAE Ruwais refinery in November 2022.

Another cargo of Russian Urals crude is shown as having arrived in Fujairah, the oil hub, earlier this month.

Kpler data also confirmed that both crude shipments occurred. "Shipments to the UAE occur on an irregular basis," a Russian crude trading source stated.



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