Exports of Russian crude surged last year, with shipments to the US increasing threefold, as Washington tightened sanctions against a number of countries, the Russian Ministry of Economic Development has said.
The volume of Russian oil exports was up 3.9 percent, according to customs data for January-November 2019. In a note, seen by business outlet RBC, the ministry said that the surge was due to Washington’s sanctions that targeted Iran and Venezuela, prompting Turkey and, surprisingly, the US to buy more oil from Russia.
Exports to Turkey jumped more than four-fold in 11 months of 2019 as Turkish refineries switched to Russian supplies after the US reimposed sweeping sanctions on Tehran. Exports to Ankara rose to 7.55 million tons last year, up from 1.69 million tons in 2018, according to the Federal Customs Service.
Since the US hit Venezuela with sanctions, including restrictions on its vital oil sector, Russia sold three times more oil to the US over the same period. Russia gained nearly $2 billion from crude exports to the US as they reached 4.28 million tons in 2019. Additionally, Moscow sold $3.8 billion worth of petroleum products to Washington.
One of the main buyers of Russian oil, China, also boosted imports by almost 4 percent to 63.1 million tons last year.
Washington imposed sanctions on the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, among other crippling restrictions on Caracas, in early 2019 in a bid to oust President Nicolas Maduro. Iran has been under Washington’s sanctions since 2018, after the US unilaterally abandoned the landmark deal to curtail Tehran’s nuclear program. Tensions have been rising between the two countries for months, and escalated further after a US drone strike killed a senior Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani, earlier this month.
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