Russia uses North Africa to circumvent oil sanctions, WSJ reports

27 February, 10:24 PM
Oil tanker, illustrative photo (Photo:Tatiana Meel / Reuters)

Oil tanker, illustrative photo (Photo:Tatiana Meel / Reuters)

Western sanctions against Russian oil products forced Moscow to redirect exports from Europe to alternative markets, such as those of North African countries, The Wall Street Journal reported on Feb. 25.

Analysts suspect that some of that cargo later gets resold in Europe.

In particular, Morocco, which imported about 600,000 barrels of Russian diesel throughout 2021, surged to 2 million barrels imported in January 2023, with another 1.2 million barrels expected to arrive by the end of February.

Tunisia, which imported virtually no Russian oil products in 2021, bought 2.8 million barrels of Russian oil products in January and is expected to import another 3.1 million barrels in February.

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Algeria and Egypt also recently saw a surge in the import of oil products from the Russian Federation.

“The increased imports to Tunisia and Morocco coincided with an uptick in their own refined-product exports, raising concerns that Russian cargoes were being blended with other oil products and re-exported,” the article reads.

“That process disguises the ultimate origin of the products and complicates Western efforts to remove Russian fossil fuels from their economies.”

Morocco, which previously did not have a significant export of diesel, in January sent 280,000 barrels of diesel to the Spanish Canary Islands and another 270,000 barrels to Turkey, which coincided with the influx of Russian state-owned enterprises in Morocco. The origin of these diesel supplies could not be established.

The oil ministries of Morocco and Tunisia did not respond to requests for comment.

Previously, it was reported that the Russian Federation is transshipping millions of barrels of Russian oil and oil products off the coast of Greece in order to bypass EU sanctions.

In October 2022, Bloomberg wrote that a “shadow fleet” of tankers was being formed globally to transport Russian oil.

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