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Russia’s commodity exports in spotlight amid standoff with West

Russia’s exports of oil, natural gas and coal, a key source of revenue for the Kremlin’s coffers, have been in the spotlight in recent months against the backdrop of Moscow’s broader standoff with the West over military alliance NATO’s expansion.

Political tensions between the West and Russia have boosted oil and gas prices.

Following are the key elements of Russia’s commodity exports:


Russia’s annual oil production C-RU-OUT rose by more than 2% last year to 10.52 million barrels per day (bpd) thanks to the easing of output cuts by the OPEC+ group of leading oil producers after a pandemic-induced decline in 2020. O/RUS1

Russian oil exports outside the former Soviet Union C-RU-EXP declined by 2.2% in 2021 to 214.4 million tonnes.

Almost half of Russia’s oil and condensate exports were directed to Europe, including Germany, the Netherlands, and Poland.

China is the single-largest importing country of Russia’s crude oil, accounting for around a third of country’s oil exports.

Russia exports most of its oil via oil transport monopoly Transneft’s TRNF_p.MM pipeline system that connects Russian oil fields to the ports and countries both in Europe and Asia.

Two main parts of Transneft’s pipeline in the West are 2–million-bpd Baltic pipeline system that connects Russian oil fields to sea ports of Primorsk and Ust-Luga in the north of Russia and 1.5-million-bpd Druzhba pipeline that supplies Russian oil straight to European refineries in Poland, Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia via Belarus and Ukraine.

Russian Urals oil is also loaded from Black Sea port of Novorossiisk with capacity of some 800,000 bpd. Actual exports via the western routes remain below the capacity.

Transneft also sends oil via the Eastern pipeline called East Siberia – Pacific Ocean (ESPO) with capacity of 1.6 million bpd.

Some 600,000 bpd are loaded via the Pacific port of Kozmino and about the same amount is shipped to China via the Skovorodino-Mohe pipeline.

About 200,000 bpd of Urals oil is shipped to China via the Atasu-Alashankou pipeline through Kazakhstan.

Russia exports about 20% of its oil via sea outlets independent of the Transneft system and by rail as well. Neighbouring Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan export some its oil via Russia’s Transneft system too.


Russia accounts for more than a third of European gas market. Its largest importer of gas is Germany, where utility Uniper UN01.DE has four long-term gas supply deals with Russian gas exporting monopoly Gazprom GAZP.MM running through 2035.

According to Gazprom, Russian gas exports outside ex-Soviet Union amounted to 185.1 billion cubic metres (bcm) last year, up 5.8 bcm from 2020, and the fourth-largest export volumes in the history of Gazprom’s supplies.

Fifteen countries increased Russian gas imports last year, including Germany (+10.5%), Turkey (+63%) and Italy (+20.3%).

Gazprom started gas exports to China via the Power of Siberia pipeline in late 2019. It plans to reach the pipeline’s full capacity of 38 bcm per year in 2025.

Russia’s major gas pipeline routes:

Russian gas exports in early 2021, by destinations:


Russia has been selling liquefied natural gas (LNG) overseas since its first LNG plant, Sakhalin 2, with participation of Shell RDSa.L, was commissioned in 2009. It ships over 10 million tonnes of the frozen gas per year, mostly to neighbouring Japan.

According to Refinitiv Eikon, Russia exported 30.3 million tonnes of LNG in 2021, including 10.1 million tonnes from Sakhalin 2, which were shipped to Asia.

Novatek-led NVTK.MM Yamal LNG produced 19.5 million tonnes last year, while a small-scale Vysotsk plant sold 700,000 tonnes to Europe.

Russian LNG supplies to Europe amounted last year to 14.4 million tonnes, of which 10.9 million tonnes went to Northern and Western Europe. Some 15.9 million tonnes were exported to Asia.


According to Russian Energy Ministry, Russian coal output rose by 9% to 439 million tonnes in 2021. Russia exports around half of its coal production.

TASS news agency said, citing official data, Russian coal exports rose by 5.7% in 2021 to 214.37 million tonnes.

Russia was the world’s third-largest coal after Australia and Indonesia in 2020.

Its share in global coal trade accounted for 16% in 2020.

Key importer of Russian coal are China, South Korea and Japan, accounting for more than a half of Russia’s total coal imports.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin, Oksana Kobzeva and Olga Yagova; editing by David Evans)

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