It’s official: EU no longer the top client of Russian oil as imports drop 90%
The European Union’s imports of Russian oil have dropped by 90% over a period of just a single year. The bloc is no longer the top client of Russian products as a result of the sweeping bans imposed in reaction to the ongoing year-long brutal war in Ukraine.
In February last year, the same month Russian troops marched into Ukraine as part of a so-called special military operation, the EU’s imports of Russian crude oil and refined products, such as gasoline, kerosene and diesel, reached 15.189 million tonnes (Mt).
The same month, but a year later, the imports plunged to just 1.876 Mt. And in March 2023, the figures dropped further to reach 1.445 Mt. The US, Brazil, Norway, Algeria, Angola, the UAE and several other countries came forward to fill the massive gap left by Russia.
Bloc Imposes Sweeping Ban
Eurostat released certain noteworthy numbers on Monday, exposing the effects of the far-reaching prohibition on Russian oil that leaders in the EU agreed to impose in late May last year after hard-fought negotiations.
The ban, which applied to both seaborne crude oil and seaborne refined products, went into effect on December 5 and February 5, respectively. The timeline was designed to help the affected countries properly adapt to the massive transformation.
The prohibition, however, didn’t affect oil imports through the Druzhba pipeline upon the request of landlocked countries in Central Europe, especially Hungary, whose demands delayed the measure’s final approval.
Certain Exceptions Remain
In fact, the March data shows most of the Russian crude oil imports reached Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic – the three countries physically connected by Druzhba. Eurostat also elaborated on the total Russian oil imports not reaching zero in its press release.
According to the government agency, certain exceptions outlined in the bans didn’t allow total oil imports from Russia to reach zero. These exceptions allow limited imports under specific conditions, it added.
Turmoil In Energy Sector
The Russian invasion of Ukraine sparked intense turmoil in the global energy sector. In an effort to calm down market prices, member states were compelled to release a portion of their emergency oil reserves.
As of March 2023, only five member states – Latvia, Ireland, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Czechia – were still below the national minimum level of emergency oil reserves, according to Eurostat. Keep an eye out on The World Reviews to understand how the situation progresses.