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Think Tank Reveals Russia’s Reliance on European Shipping for Oil


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In the ever-evolving landscape of global energy markets, Russia’s oil exports have remained a topic of significant interest and scrutiny.

Despite the Group of Seven (G-7) imposing price caps on Russian crude and petroleum products, recent findings shed light on Russia’s ability to navigate these constraints and maintain its prominent position in the European shipping industry. This article delves into the intricacies of Russia’s oil exports, the impact of G-7 price caps, and the emergence of a ‘shadow fleet’ as a countermeasure.


Russia’s Oil Exports Amidst G-7 Price Caps:

As the G-7 and its allies sought to curb Russia’s revenue stream by capping the prices of its crude oil exports, Russia has demonstrated its resilience in adapting to these limitations. Since December, when the G-7 introduced price caps on crude oil exports, and subsequently on refined fuels like gasoline and diesel in February, Russia has faced a unique challenge in maintaining its global oil trade.


The G-7’s intention behind these price caps was twofold: to ensure a continuous flow of oil to global markets and to curtail Russia’s profits. However, recent revelations indicate that while the price cap was designed to restrain Russia’s financial gains, it has not entirely deterred the nation from exporting its oil.


The Role of European Shipping:

One significant revelation is that approximately two-thirds of Russian crude and petroleum products are transported using vessels insured or owned by countries adhering to the G-7 price caps. This underscores Russia’s continued reliance on the European shipping industry. Despite the imposed limitations, Moscow has managed to leverage the availability of Western vessels to facilitate its oil exports.


The Emergence of a ‘Shadow Fleet’:

In response to the G-7 price caps, Russia has adopted a strategic approach by establishing what experts refer to as a ‘shadow fleet’ of tankers. These tankers operate outside the jurisdictions of countries implementing sanctions, allowing them to bypass the constraints imposed by the G-7 and its allies. The ‘shadow fleet’ primarily focuses on shorter-distance oil transportation routes, optimizing capacity to move more supply efficiently.


Challenges in Enforcing Price Caps:

While the G-7 and its allies introduced price caps with the intent of regulating Russia’s oil exports, their effectiveness has been called into question. Experts argue that the failure to fully enforce the price cap and penalize violators has weakened its impact. As a result, Russian crude oil prices have consistently traded above the $60 per barrel threshold since mid-July.


Premium Pricing and Global Impact:

Russia’s strategic maneuvering has not only allowed it to evade the G-7 price caps but has also led to intriguing market dynamics. Some portions of Russia’s oil supply, particularly those sold in Asian markets, have started commanding a premium over benchmark prices. With Brent crude hovering around $95 per barrel, specific Russian oil grades are trading much closer to $100 than the intended cap of $60 per barrel.



The evolving landscape of Russia’s oil exports within the framework of G-7 price caps showcases the nation’s adaptability and strategic resilience. While the imposition of price caps aimed to restrict Russia’s revenue, the reality has demonstrated a complex web of factors that have allowed Russia to continue its oil exports. The emergence of the ‘shadow fleet’ and the challenges in enforcing price caps underscore the intricacies of global energy markets and geopolitics. As Russia navigates these constraints, the impact on global oil markets and geopolitics remains a subject of ongoing analysis and debate.

M Moiz
M Moiz
M Moiz, is Research Student at Islamabad research Institute and work with THE THINK TANK JOURNAL

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