Russia ramps up January oil exports, India remains top buyer

An oil tanker and bulk carrier sail near the crude oil terminal Kozmino in Nakhodka Bay
The oil products tanker Nord and a bulk carrier sail near the crude oil terminal Kozmino in Nakhodka Bay near the port city of Nakhodka, Russia, December 4, 2022. REUTERS/Tatiana Meel

MOSCOW, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Urals and KEBCO crude oil loadings from Russia's Baltic ports of Primorsk and Ust-Luga are set to rise by 50% this month from December as sellers try to meet strong demand in Asia and benefit from rising global energy prices, traders said and Reuters calculations showed.

Around 70% of January cargoes of Urals oil are heading to India, according to traders' data and Reuters calculations. India has been a top buyer of the Russian grade for several months now, filling the void left by EU buyers.

In December India's oil imports jumped to a five-month record amid active buying of the Russian oil. China, which is seen as the second largest buyer of Urals in January, is also raising oil purchases in physical markets.

Oil prices rose by around 1% on Monday to a seven-week high as the market expected economic recovery in top oil importer China this year.

Supplies of oil from Russia and Kazakhstan via Primorsk and Ust-Luga will reach 7.1 million tonnes in January for the highest level since 2019, loading plans show.

On top of that, the ports will load 300,000 tonnes of crude to catch up after delays meant that December's export plan was not completed, Reuters sources said.

Russia loaded 4.7 million tonnes of Urals and KEBCO from Baltic ports in December, traders said and Refinitiv data showed.

Last year Kazakhstan changed the name of the oil it exports via Russian sea ports, from Urals to Kazakhstan Export Blend Crude Oil (KEBCO), dissociating it from oil originating in Russia to avoid sanction risks and issues with financing.

Reporting by Reuters reporters Editing by David Goodman and Susan Fenton

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