Restrictions Divert Flows of Exclusive Russian Crude Oil to the United Arab Emirates

Restrictions Divert Flows of Exclusive Russian Crude Oil to the United Arab Emirates

According to ship monitoring data and trading sources, the United Arab Emirates has started accepting more shipments of Russian crude oil, which is another illustration of how Western sanctions against Russia have changed the usual energy trade flows.

With fewer customers due to international sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow refers to as a "special military operation," Russia has been selling both crude and processed products at reduced prices. 


This development also shows how Russia and major Gulf oil producers like Saudi Arabia and the UAE are working together more and more. As Russia was put under Western sanctions, the Gulf Arab states were under pressure from the United States to help isolate it and to pump more oil to help replace Russian supply.

While the precise date the UAE started importing Russian crude is unknown, tanker tracking data suggests that since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and the ensuing Western sanctions against Moscow, imports have increased.

According to ship monitoring data, the UAE, one of the world's largest oil producers in its own right, has received around 1.5 million barrels of Russian crude since November 2022, with amounts either starting or increasing since early 2022.


The first cargo of Russian oil to the UAE was made in 2019, but following April 2022, shipments rose with a halt between July and October 2022, according to data from energy analytics company Kpler.

According to Refinitiv Eikon statistics, the first shipment of Russian crude to the nation occurred in 2022, with a volume increase in April of that same year.

Requests for comments on the data were not immediately answered by the Russian and UAE energy ministries.

Expanding collaboration

To run its power plants, Saudi Arabia has been importing a sizable amount of Russian fuel oil, freeing up more crude for exports. There has only ever been one known transport of Russian crude to the UAE.

While many governments have prohibited or discouraged such purchases, China, India, and some African and other Middle Eastern countries have expanded their imports of Russian crude and goods.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies form the OPEC+ alliance, in which the UAE and Russia have continued to cooperate.

A supply of Russian crude arrived at the UAE Ruwais refinery in November 2022, according to data obtained by Reuters from the ship monitoring service Eikon.

The arrival of another cargo of Russian Urals crude in the oil hub of Fujairah earlier this month is indicated.

Both crude shipments were verified by Kpler data as having occurred. According to a Russian oil trading source, shipments to the UAE are sporadic.