Winter storms hamper Russian oil exports from Black Sea ports, raise costs

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MOSCOW, Dec 8 (Reuters) - Early winter storms in southern Russia are hampering oil operations in Black Sea ports, traders said on Wednesday, delaying cargoes and increasing costs.

Bad weather has been hammering the Black Sea oil export centres since November, with Novorossiisk oil terminal, which loads Urals crude, and Yuzhnaya Ozereyevka, which loads CPC Blend, most affected, said traders.

"Weather conditions in Novorossiisk are terrible. Nearly every cargo loading has been delayed", a trading source working with the port said.

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Russian oil pipeline operator Transneft, which controls the Novorossiisk port, didn't respond to Reuters request for comment. The Caspian Pipeline Consortium, operating the terminal at Yuzhnaya Ozereyevka, declined to comment.

Storms delayed some 300,000 tonnes of Urals and Siberian Light from the Novorossiisk loading schedule for November to December, traders familiar with the port operations said.

Novorossiisk loadings are currently from one to five days behind schedule, the trading source working with the port said.

Long queues of tankers in the Black Sea straits - the Bosphorus and Dardanelles - have made the situation worse, with ships stuck in the waterways leading to the Mediterranean Sea.

A round-trip journey from the Med to the Black Sea via the straits increased to 15-20 days in December, from an average 7 days for the rest of 2021, Riverlake tanker data in Refinitiv Eikon terminal showed.

"Bad weather and long passing through the straits raise charterer costs a lot, and buyers and sellers try to avoid paying demurrage (delay costs), which makes the Black Sea route less popular," a trader with an international oil company told Reuters.

Sellers have been offering cargoes loading from Black Sea ports on an FOB (free on board) basis that excludes freight costs for the supplier, instead of CIF (cost, insurance and freight), which is common at other times, the trader said.

Urals 80,000-tonne cargoes loading from Novorossiisk were priced at a 96 cents-per-barrel discount on an FOB basis to 100,000-tonne cargoes of oil loading out of Primorsk in the Baltic, where there were no issues with loading delays.

In January-October, the FOB price for Novorossiisk cargoes was just 7 cents per barrel below Primorsk on average, Refinitiv Eikon data showed. ,

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Reporting by Olga Yagova and Gleb Gorodyankin; Editing by Tom Hogue

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