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Small trading firms gain Rosneft oil product exports after sanctions

Rosneft has sold more than a third of its seaborne oil product exports to small trading firms so far in 2020, shipping data and Reuters calculations show, in a shift from the Russian state oil giant’s strategy of sales to top trading houses and oil majors.

The change in the decade-long policy came soon after the United States imposed sanctions on Rosneft over its dealings with Venezuela, which prompted the Russian oil major to look for ways to diversify its pool of customers.

Although Rosneft, which declined to comment, has since stopped dealing with Venezuela, Washington has left the sanctions in place.

Trading firms Cetracore, Mercantile and Maritime and Petrocas together bought 36% of Rosneft’s seaborne oil product exports in the first nine months of 2020, slightly above the 35% purchased by Trafigura, the data and calculations show.

Rosneft’s partner and shareholder BP has accounted for just 7% of Rosneft’s seaborne product exports this year, while Glencore and Vitol have bought 3% and 2% respectively, the data shows.

Rosneft, Trafigura, Mercantile and Petrocas declined to comment. Cetracore did not respond to a request for comment.

Mercantile, Cetracore and Petrocas all won the right to lift significant amounts of Rosneft’s oil products in 2020. Rosneft, the largest Russian oil product supplier, exports mostly by sea and sells through annual tenders.

Cetracore was the second largest “offtaker” of Rosneft’s seaborne oil product export after Trafigura, purchasing about 18% of the volume so far this year, Reuters calculations showed.

The firm buys mostly fuel oil and diesel from Rosneft loading to the Black Sea market, it also purchases gasoline from the Baltic port of Arkhangelsk.

Petrocas, in which Rosneft owns a 49% stake and Georgian businessman David Yakobashvili the remaining 51%, accounted for about 10% of Rosneft’s oil product exports so far in 2020.

The firm buys ultra-low sulphur diesel loading from Baltic Primorsk and Black Sea Novorossiisk from Rosneft and resells it to trading firms and Mediterranean buyers.

Mercantile and Maritime, which used to cooperate with Rosneft in shipping and trading in European and Middle Eastern markets, last year secured term supplies from it.

At the end of 2019, Mercantile won several term tenders for oil product supplies this year, during which its loadings account for some 8% of Rosneft seaborne oil product exports, Reuters calculations show.

This includes naphtha from the port of Tuapse and the ports of Nakhodka and Vostochniy in eastern Russia as well as vacuum gasoil in the Black Sea region.
Source: Reuters (Additional reporting by Dmitry Zhdannikov in LONDON and Gleb Gorodyankin in MOSCOW; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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