Russian crude is quietly flowing to European buyers like Italy and Spain as EU sanctions loom

Russian crude is quietly flowing to European buyers like Italy and Spain as EU sanctions loom
Russian President Vladimir Putin.Alexander Demyanchuk/AP
  • Russian oil shipments to the Mediterranean region have jumped recently, Bloomberg data shows.
  • Ports in Italy and Turkey have seen an uptick in Russian crude imports, hitting multi-week highs to start August.

An uptick of Russian crude has quietly flowed to the Mediterranean region over recent weeks as buyers snap up barrels ahead of the European Union's partial embargo.

According to data tracked by Bloomberg, Russian crude flows to Italy hit a seven-week high, and shipments to Turkey hit a six-week high in the seven days leading up to August 5.

Spain accepted its first delivery of Urals crude in four months, and the same blend went from the Baltic to Greece for the first time since February. At the same time, shipments to customers in northern Europe slipped.

While the European Union plans to cut off oil seaborne imports of Russia oil by the end of this year, the increased flows in August signal the challenge Europeans will have in finding alternative resources.

Shipments to European buyers hit a five-week high of 1.38 million barrels a day, though that's still below the 1.85 million barrels a day from before Russia invaded Ukraine.


Meanwhile, Russia continues to send roughly 1.75 million barrels a day to Asia, though flows have dipped since 2.1 million barrels a day were exported in April and May.

Cargo ships have also been working to obscure the origin of crude to allow sanctioned goods to continue to flow.

A separate Bloomberg report noted that Russia has found a way to cover its tracks amid Western restrictions via an Egyptian port, where barrels from different locations are mixed.