Who’s Still Buying Fossil Fuels From Russia?
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Who’s Still Buying Fossil Fuels From Russia?

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Countries importing fossil fuels from russia since the start of the war

The Largest Importers of Russian Fossil Fuels Since the War

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Despite looming sanctions and import bans, Russia exported $97.7 billion worth of fossil fuels in the first 100 days since its invasion of Ukraine, at an average of $977 million per day.

So, which fossil fuels are being exported by Russia, and who is importing these fuels?

The above infographic tracks the biggest importers of Russia’s fossil fuel exports during the first 100 days of the war based on data from the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA).

In Demand: Russia’s Black Gold

The global energy market has seen several cyclical shocks over the last few years.

The gradual decline in upstream oil and gas investment followed by pandemic-induced production cuts led to a drop in supply, while people consumed more energy as economies reopened and winters got colder. Consequently, fossil fuel demand was rising even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which exacerbated the market shock.

Russia is the third-largest producer and second-largest exporter of crude oil. In the 100 days since the invasion, oil was by far Russia’s most valuable fossil fuel export, accounting for $48 billion or roughly half of the total export revenue.

Fossil fuelRevenue from exports (Feb 24 - June 4)% of total Russian fossil fuel export revenue
Crude oil$48.3B49.4%
Pipeline gas$25.2B25.8%
Oil products$13.6B13.9%
Liquified Natural Gas (LNG)$5.4B5.5%
Coal$5.0B5.1%
Total$97.7B100%

While Russian crude oil is shipped on tankers, a network of pipelines transports Russian gas to Europe. In fact, Russia accounts for 41% of all natural gas imports to the EU, and some countries are almost exclusively dependent on Russian gas. Of the $25 billion exported in pipeline gas, 85% went to the EU.

The Top Importers of Russian Fossil Fuels

The EU bloc accounted for 61% of Russia’s fossil fuel export revenue during the 100-day period.

Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands—members of both the EU and NATO—were among the largest importers, with only China surpassing them.

CountryValue of fossil fuel imports from Russia (Feb 24 - Jun 4)% of Russian fossil fuel export revenue
🇨🇳 China$13.2B13.5%
🇩🇪 Germany$12.7B12.9%
🇮🇹 Italy$8.2B8.4%
🇳🇱 Netherlands$8.2B8.4%
🇹🇷 Turkey$7.0B7.2%
🇵🇱 Poland$4.6B4.7%
🇫🇷 France$4.5B4.6%
🇮🇳 India$3.6B3.7%
🌍 Other$35.7B36.5%
Total$97.7B100%

China overtook Germany as the largest importer, importing nearly 2 million barrels of discounted Russian oil per day in May—up 55% relative to a year ago. Similarly, Russia surpassed Saudi Arabia as China’s largest oil supplier.

The biggest increase in imports came from India, buying 18% of all Russian oil exports during the 100-day period. A significant amount of the oil that goes to India is re-exported as refined products to the U.S. and Europe, which are trying to become independent of Russian imports.

Reducing Reliance on Russia

In response to the invasion of Ukraine, several countries have taken strict action against Russia through sanctions on exports, including fossil fuels. 

The U.S. and Sweden have banned Russian fossil fuel imports entirely, with monthly import volumes down 100% and 99% in May relative to when the invasion began, respectively.

importers of russian fossil fuels

On a global scale, monthly fossil fuel import volumes from Russia were down 15% in May, an indication of the negative political sentiment surrounding the country.

It’s also worth noting that several European countries, including some of the largest importers over the 100-day period, have cut back on Russian fossil fuels. Besides the EU’s collective decision to reduce dependence on Russia, some countries have also refused the country’s ruble payment scheme, leading to a drop in imports.

The import curtailment is likely to continue. The EU recently adopted a sixth sanction package against Russia, placing a complete ban on all Russian seaborne crude oil products. The ban, which covers 90% of the EU’s oil imports from Russia, will likely realize its full impact after a six-to-eight month period that permits the execution of existing contracts.

While the EU is phasing out Russian oil, several European countries are heavily reliant on Russian gas. A full-fledged boycott on Russia’s fossil fuels would also hurt the European economy—therefore, the phase-out will likely be gradual, and subject to the changing geopolitical environment.

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Energy

Which Countries Produce the Most Natural Gas?

Natural gas prices have risen since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This visualization highlights the world’s largest natural gas producers.

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Which Countries Produce the Most Natural Gas?

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Natural gas prices have risen since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, exacerbating an already tight supply situation.

Making matters worse, Moscow has since cut gas exports to Europe to multi-year lows, sending Europe’s gas price to almost 10 times its pre-war average.

Using data from BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy, the above infographic provides further context on the gas market by visualizing the world’s largest gas producers in 2021.

Natural Gas Consumption at All-Time High in 2021

Natural gas is part of nearly every aspect of our daily lives. It is used for heating, cooking, electricity generation, as fuel for motor vehicles, in fertilizers, and in the manufacture of plastics.

The fuel is a naturally occurring hydrocarbon gas and non-renewable fossil fuel that forms below the Earth’s surface. Although the Earth has enormous quantities of natural gas, much of it is in areas far from where the fuel is needed. To facilitate transport and reduce volume, natural gas is frequently converted into liquefied natural gas (LNG), in a process called liquefaction.

Despite global efforts to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, natural gas consumption reached a new all-time high in 2021, surpassing the previous record set in 2019 by 3.3%.

Demand is expected to decline slightly in 2022 and remain subdued up to 2025, according to the International Energy Agency.

Region2021 Demand in Billion Cubic Meters (bcm)2022P (bcm)2025P (bcm)
Africa169172188
Asia Pacific895907990
Central and South America153147153
Eurasia634619632
Europe 604549536
Middle East564582627
North America1,0841,1081,116
World 4,1034,0834,243

The Asia Pacific region and the industrial sector are expected to be the main drivers of global gas consumption in the coming years

Natural Gas Production, by Country

The world’s top 10 producers of natural gas account for about 73% of total production.

RankCountry2021 Production (bcm)Share %
#1🇺🇸 United States934.223.1%
#2🇷🇺 Russia701.717.4%
#3🇮🇷 Iran 256.76.4%
#4🇨🇳 China209.25.2%
#5🇶🇦 Qatar 177.04.4%
#6🇨🇦 Canada172.34.3%
#7🇦🇺 Australia 147.23.6%
#8🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia 117.32.9%
#9🇳🇴 Norway114.32.8%
#10🇩🇿 Algeria100.82.5%
#12🇹🇲 Turkmenistan79.32.0%
#13🇲🇾 Malaysia 74.21.8%
#14🇪🇬 Egypt 67.81.7%
#15🇮🇩 Indonesia 59.31.5%
#16🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates57.01.4%
#17🇺🇿 Uzbekistan50.91.3%
#18🇳🇬 Nigeria 45.91.1%
🌐 Rest of the World671.816.6%
🌐 Global Total4,036.9100.0%

Natural gas accounts for 32% of primary energy consumption in the United States, the world’s largest producer. Russia is the second biggest producer, and also has at least 37 trillion cubic meters of natural gas reserves, the most in the world.

China’s natural gas production grew by 7.8% in 2021, and it has nearly doubled since 2011. This sustained growth in production is partly down to government policies incentivizing coal-to-gas switching.

Europe’s Natural Gas Crisis

Russia has significantly reduced flows of natural gas to Europe since Western nations imposed sanctions on the Kremlin following the invasion of Ukraine. Before the war, the European Union (EU) imported about 40% of its natural gas from Russia.

The gas is transported by the Nord Stream system, a pair of offshore natural gas pipeline networks in Europe that run under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany.

Russian energy giant Gazprom recently halved the amount of natural gas flowing through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to 20% of capacity, blaming Western sanctions for a delay in the delivery in a necessary turbine. EU officials say Russia is “weaponizing” its gas supply.

Amid tensions, the EU bloc outlined a plan to phase out dependence on Russian fossil fuels. Lithuania ceased Russian gas imports at the beginning of April. Estonia’s and Latvia’s imports also dropped to zero at the start of that month. Bulgaria, the Netherlands, and Poland all announced that they do not intend to renew long-term contracts with Gazprom.

Despite these efforts, Europe remains dependent on Russia for its supply of natural gas, at least in the short and medium term.

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Visualizing the World’s Largest Oil Producers

Global oil production averaged 89.8 million barrels of oil per day in 2021. Here are the world’s largest oil producers.

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The World’s Largest Oil Producers

This was originally posted on Elements. Sign up to the free mailing list to get beautiful visualizations on natural resource megatrends in your email every week.

The world is in the middle of the first energy crisis of the 21st century.

High energy prices, especially for oil, gas, and coal, are driving decades-high inflation in various countries, some of which are also experiencing energy shortages. Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine has exacerbated the crisis, given that the country is both a major producer and exporter of oil and natural gas.

Using data from BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy, the above infographic provides further context on the crisis by visualizing the world’s largest oil producers in 2021.

Oil Production: OPEC Countries vs. Rest of the World

Before looking at country-level data, it’s worth seeing the amount of oil the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) produces compared to other organizations and regions.

Region/Organization2021 Oil Production (barrels per day)% of Total
OPEC31.7M35%
North America23.9M27%
Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)13.8M15%
Rest of the World20.5M23%
Total89.9M100%

The OPEC countries are the largest oil producers collectively, with Saudi Arabia alone making up one-third of OPEC production. It’s also important to note that OPEC production remains below pre-pandemic levels after the organization reduced its output by an unprecedented 10 million barrels per day (B/D) in 2020.

Following the OPEC countries, the U.S., Canada, and Mexico accounted for just over a quarter of global oil production in 2021. Nearly 70% of North American oil production came from the U.S., the world’s largest oil producer.

Similarly, within the CIS—an organization of post-Soviet Union countries—Russia was by far the largest producer, accounting for 80% of total CIS production.

The Largest Oil Producers in 2021

Roughly 43% of the world’s oil production came from just three countries in 2021—the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Russia. Together, these three countries produced more oil than the rest of the top 10 combined.

Country2021 Oil Production (barrels per day)% of Total
U.S. 🇺🇸16.6M18.5%
Saudi Arabia 🇸🇦11M12.2%
Russian Federation 🇷🇺10.9M12.2%
Canada 🇨🇦5.4M6.0%
Iraq 🇮🇶4.1M4.6%
China 🇨🇳4.0M4.4%
United Arab Emirates 🇦🇪3.7M4.1%
Iran 🇮🇷3.6M4.0%
Brazil 🇧🇷3.0M3.3%
Kuwait 🇰🇼2.7M3.0%
Norway 🇳🇴2.0M2.3%
Mexico 🇲🇽1.9M2.1%
Kazakhstan 🇰🇿1.8M2.0%
Qatar 🇶🇦1.7M1.9%
Nigeria 🇳🇬1.6M1.8%
Algeria 🇩🇿1.4M1.5%
Libya 🇱🇾1.3M1.4%
Angola 🇦🇴1.2M1.3%
Oman 🇴🇲0.97M1.1%
United Kingdom 🇬🇧0.87M1.0%
India 🇮🇳0.75M0.8%
Colombia 🇨🇴0.74M0.8%
Azerbaijan 🇦🇿0.72M0.8%
Indonesia 🇮🇩0.69M0.8%
Venezuela 🇻🇪0.65M0.7%
Argentina 🇦🇷0.63M0.7%
Egypt 🇪🇬0.60M0.7%
Malaysia 🇲🇾0.57M0.6%
Ecuador 🇪🇨0.47M0.5%
Australia 🇦🇺0.44M0.5%
Thailand 🇹🇭0.39M0.4%
Republic of Congo 🇨🇬0.27M0.3%
Turkmenistan 🇹🇲0.25M0.3%
Vietnam 🇻🇳0.19M0.2%
Gabon 🇬🇦0.18M0.2%
South Sudan 🇸🇩0.15M0.2%
Equatorial Guinea 🇬🇳0.14M0.2%
Peru 🇵🇪0.13M0.1%
Chad 🇹🇩0.12M0.1%
Brunei 🇧🇳0.10M0.1%
Italy 🇮🇹0.10M0.1%
Syria 🇸🇾0.10M0.1%
Trinidad & Tobago 🇹🇹0.08M0.1%
Romania 🇷🇴0.07M0.1%
Yemen 🇾🇪0.07M0.1%
Denmark 🇩🇰0.07M0.1%
Sudan 🇸🇩0.06M0.1%
Uzbekistan 🇺🇿0.06M0.1%
Tunisia 🇹🇳0.05M0.1%
Rest of the World 🌍1.2M1.4%
Total89.9M100.0%

Over the last few decades, U.S. oil production has been on a rollercoaster of troughs and peaks. After falling from its 1970 peak of 11.3 million B/D, it reached a historic low of 6.8 million B/D in 2008. However, following a turnaround in the 2010s, the country has since surpassed Saudi Arabia as the largest oil producer. As of 2021, though, the U.S. remained a net importer of crude oil while exporting refined petroleum products.

Saudi Arabia and Russia each produced roughly 11 million B/D in 2021 and were the two largest oil exporters globally. In both countries, state-owned oil firms (Saudi Aramco and Gazprom, respectively) were the most valuable oil and gas producing companies.

From Europe (excluding Russia), only Norway made the top 15 oil producers, accounting for 2.3% of global production. The lack of regional output partly explains the European Union’s dependence on Russian oil and gas, worsening the region’s energy crisis.

How the Energy Crisis is Affecting Oil Production

After a deep dive in 2020, oil demand is resurfacing and is now above pre-pandemic levels. Furthermore, supply constraints due to sanctions on Russian oil and gas tighten the market and support high oil prices.

While the impact has been felt globally, European countries have been hit hard due to their reliance on Russia’s fossil fuel exports, with some getting almost all of their energy fuels from Russia.

To combat the oil crunch, the rest of the world is ramping up oil supply through increased production or releasing strategic petroleum reserves (SPRs). U.S. oil production is expected to rise by 1 million B/D in 2022 to a record-high. Simultaneously, Western nations are calling on OPEC members to increase their output to ease prices. However, OPEC nations are sticking to their planned production hikes, with output still below early 2020 levels.

“We had a good discussion on ensuring global energy security and adequate oil supplies to support global economic growth. And that will begin shortly.”– U.S. President Joe Biden on his recent visit to Saudi Arabia

The U.S. is releasing 180 million barrels of oil from its SPR, of which 60 million barrels will contribute to the IEA’s collective release of 120 million barrels. But with oil demand expected to reach a new all-time high in 2023, it remains to be seen whether these efforts to increase supply will be enough to curb the crunch.

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