Buyers of Russian oil have faced massive difficulties over payments and availability of vessels after imposition of Western sanctions against Moscow over Ukraine, traders said on Monday.
The West has introduced wide-range sweeping sanctions, including on the banking sector, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Thursday. Russia calls its action a “special operation” to disarm Ukraine.
The United States and its allies on Saturday moved to block certain Russian banks’ access to the SWIFT international payment system.
The vast Russian energy sector itself has not been hit by the sanctions. Russia produces 10% of global oil and supplies 40% of Europe’s gas.
Traders said Russian oil buyers had struggled to find vessels in the Baltic Sea for cargoes loading after March 10, while they also reported that freight costs for Russian oil delivery had spiked fivefold in the Black Sea region within a week.
“We have ships for the closest dates, but we have no clue how we will load cargoes in mid-March,” said a source at a large buyer of Russian Urals oil.