Russian oil imports by NATO state hit historic high

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Following the suspension of major Russian oil and natural gas imports by many European countries, Turkey has become the Western Hemisphere’s top importer of Russian energy, according to Reuters.

Despite being a NATO member, Turkey has chosen not to cut ties with Russia over the Ukrainian war, instead strengthening economic cooperation and bilateral trade.

According to Reuters calculations based on London Stock Exchange data and trader estimates, Turkish enterprises will save roughly $2 billion on energy bills by increasing imports of discounted Russian oil and processed goods in 2023.

“Ankara wants to buy more from its neighbor despite Western sanctions,” the outlet wrote.

Data reportedly shows that Russian Urals crude oil shipments to Türkiye jumped to an all-time high of 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) in November 2023, accounting for some 14% of Russia’s overall seaborne oil exports last month.

Supplies are expected to rise further in the coming months, Reuters said, citing trading sources.

Turkish imports of Russian diesel, heating oil, jet and marine fuel increased 200% to 290,000 bpd between January and November 2023.

According to traders, Ankara has paid between $25 and $150 less per tonne (between $3.30 and $20 per barrel) of Russian diesel this year compared to similar grades in the Mediterranean. It apparently had crude discounts ranging from $5 to $20 per barrel.

“Cheaper energy imports have helped Ankara narrow its trade deficit and lessen pressure on its currency, which devalued 30% so far this year,” a report by Reuters said.

Despite US concerns that Turkey might face sanctions if it is found to be assisting Russia in circumventing Western sanctions, Ankara has reiterated that it has no plans to support the sanction programme.