MOSCOW (Reuters) –

• This content material was produced in Russia the place the legislation restricts protection of Russian army operations in Ukraine

Greater than a dozen tankers loaded with 10 million barrels of Russia’s Sokol grade crude oil have been stranded off the coast of South Korea for weeks, up to now unsold as a result of U.S. sanctions and fee points, in accordance with two merchants and delivery knowledge.

The volumes, equating to 1.3 million metric tons, characterize greater than a month’s manufacturing of the Sakhalin-1 challenge, as soon as a flagship enterprise of U.S. main Exxon Mobil, which exited Russia after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Sakhalin-1 was one of many first post-Soviet offers in Russia made underneath a manufacturing sharing settlement. When Exxon Mobil left in 2022, output fell to almost zero and hasn’t totally recovered since.

Difficulties in promoting Sokol grade pose one of the vital challenges Moscow has confronted because the West imposed sanctions and one of the severe disruptions to Russian oil exports in two years.

Washington has stated it needs sanctions to scale back revenues for President Vladimir Putin and his battle machine in Ukraine however to not disrupt the flows of Russian power to international markets.

Final 12 months, the USA imposed sanctions on a number of vessels and firms concerned in transporting Sokol.

As of Friday, 14 vessels loaded with Sokol have been caught round South Korea’s port of Yosu, together with 11 Aframax vessels and three very massive crude carriers (VLCCs), in accordance with LSEG, Kpler knowledge and merchants.

The amount saved in tankers characterize 45 days of manufacturing from Sakhalin-1, which averages output of 220,000 barrels per day (bpd).

Supertankers (VLCCs) La Balena, Nireta and Nellis with some 3.2 million barrels onboard (430,000 metric tons), presently close to South Korea’s Yosu, are appearing as a floating storage for the Russian oil grade, Reuters sources stated and Kpler and LSEG delivery knowledge present.

The VLCCs beforehand accepted oil from a number of Aframax vessels by way of ship-to-ship, the information confirmed. Supplying oil volumes from smaller ships to greater ones can save on freight.

The remainder of the Sokol oil loaded from November to January is saved on smaller Aframax vessels (capable of carry 500,000-800,000 barrels) – Krymsk, NS Commander, Sakhalin Island, Liteyny Prospect, NS Century, NS Lion, NS Antarctic, Jaguar, Vostochny Prospect, Pavel Chernysh and Viktor Titov.

Shipments of Sokol to the Indian Oil Corp have been delayed by fee issues, forcing India’s greatest refiner to attract from its inventories and purchase extra oil from the Center East.

A supply near IOC stated the corporate didn’t anticipate to obtain any Sokol shipments quickly as a result of a disagreement over which forex could be used to pay for it.

IOC is the one state refiner that has an annual deal to purchase a wide range of Russian grades, together with Sokol, from Russian oil main Rosneft. IOC and Rosneft didn’t reply to Reuters requests for remark.

(Reporting by Reuters reporters in Moscow, Nidhi Verma in India, Muyu Xu in Singapore; Enhancing by Louise Heavens and Ros Russell)

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