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Kazakhstan cuts oil export plan from Russia’s Ust-Luga in March – traders

Kazakhstan plans to cut its exports via the Baltic port of Ust-Luga in Russia by a quarter next month, as the former Soviet oil producer struggles to deal with a domestic crude contamination crisis, three trading sources told Reuters.

CNPC Aktobemunaigas, a Kazakh subsidiary of Chinese energy group CNPC, has cut oil output after detecting a high content of organic chlorides last month. This forced Kazakhstan to redirect supplies from exports to feed refineries at home.

Kazakhstan, the second biggest oil producer among former Soviet states behind Russia, is moving around 15 million tonnes of oil a year, or 300,000 barrels per day (bpd), via Russian ports.

It had planned to send eight cargoes 100,000 tonnes each via Ust-Luga in March. But the March plan has now been reduced to six cargoes with 600,000 tonnes of oil in total, traders said.

At the reduced level, it is still more than February’s shipments of 500,000 tonnes but less than the 700,000 tonnes shipped in January. Kazakhstan has suspended pipeline flows to China.

The Energy Ministry and CNPC Aktobemunaigas did not immediately reply to Reuters requests for comments.

Kazakhstan is pumping around 1.6 million bpd, of which CNPC Aktobemunaigas accounts for less than 5%.

The bulk of the company’s oil is used at home. Kazakhstan held back some volumes originally meant for exports to keep the domestic market supplied and avoid oil products shortages.

Kazakhstan plans to resume oil exports to China in March.

In addition to Kazakhstan’s problem with tainted oil, Russia faced a major crude contamination crisis last year and was forced to reduce oil supplies to Europe via the Druzhba pipeline. The Russian and Kazakh contamination problems are not linked.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Alla Afanasyeva and Gleb Gorodyankin Writing by Katya Golubkova)

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