Russia conquers American markets

Sergey Savchuk

While the whole world is watching the Olympians’ competitions in Tokyo, on the other side of the Pacific Ocean, our country, unnoticed by the outside world, has risen to the second step of an unexpected pedestal. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) with reference to the US State Geological Survey (USGS), according to the results of May this year, Russia has become the second major oil supplier to America, leaving Mexico behind and second only to Canada.

The published data show that the volume of purchases for the reporting period increased by ten percent at once and reached 840 thousand barrels per day – however, we are significantly behind the main supplier, Canada. From the Country of the Maple Leaf to the United States through pip-elines, almost four million barrels are transported ev-ery day. A noteworthy fact: Russia with its silver medal in the import of petroleum products has left behind not only another neighbor of the United States – Mexico: in May, the volume of Russian oil purchased by the Americans surpassed even tanker shipments from Saudi Arabia.

For a complete understanding of what is happening, it is necessary to make a small clarification. Russia sends to the United States not only grassroots raw materials, the reports indicate the type of imported goods as crude and fuel oils, which means crude oil and heating oil.

The main buyers are also known. The largest share of purchases fell on the American oil company Valero (headquartered in San Antonio ), it imported more than eight and a half million barrels of raw materials, which, after customs clearance, were immediately sent to refineries in Texas, Louisiana and California. Also on the list of buyers are transnational giants ExxonMobile and Chevron. The first purchased three and a half million barrels, the second three million. A complete coincidence, but most of the refineries of these two companies located in the United States, stretched clearly along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, from all the same Texas to the very Florida.

The American media are very unhappy and reproach Joe Biden with the fact that the stronghold of democracy is buying resources from a country that “has carried out a hacker attack on the American Colonial Pipeline and will very soon, against the will of the United States, finish the construction of Nord Stream 2. ” and simply, we will stand up for the American president for the simple reason that he, as the leader of the country, simply has no other choice.

The United States is reaping the benefits of its own foreign policy before our very eyes. Back in March 2015, Barack Obama officially called Venezuela a “threat to US national security,” and Trump, who replaced him at the top post of the country, imposed a wide range of restrictive measures on Caracas in 2018-2019. They prohibited legal entities and individuals from conducting any transactions with electronic currency issued personally or on behalf of the Venezuelan government. Separately, operations with Venezuelan gold and cooperation with the main state oil company PDVSA were prohibited.

But here, as they say, everything went smoothly on the presidential paper, but they forgot about the market ravines.

Caracas, having suffered considerable losses, switched its supplies to China, and the “dropped out” daily 500 thousand barrels of Venezuelan oil provoked an oil refining crisis in the south of the United States. Oil prices then set five-year records in just a couple of months, but this still did not solve the problem of a physical shortage of raw materials.

Because, in the same summer of 2018, Trump’s America withdrew from the nuclear agreement with Iran, imposing sanctions on the oil sector of the Persians. Iranian oil exports collapsed – from 1.5 million to 500 thousand barrels per day. Washington was celebrating a political victory, and in the southern United States, oil companies fou-ght over literally every tan-ker with the only oil available – Russian and Saudi.

The point is that the oil from Russia, Venezuela and Iran has one thing in common. All three countries produce so-called heavy oil with a high sulfur content. Urals are mined in Russia, Venezuela trades in black gold grades of Santa Barbara and Tia Juana Heavy, and Iran supplies Iran Heavy and Foroozan Blend grades to the markets. The chemical composition and sulfur content in the listed brands ranges from 1.3 to 2.3 percent. It was for this type of feedstock that refineries in the southern states were built during the oil boom of the 80s of the last century. It would never have occurred to anyone that Venezuelan oil, which for decades had been flowing like a river into American cracking and reforming plants, could disappear.

Joe Biden’s team simply has no other choice but to allow massive purchases of primary and secondary raw materials from Russia, turning a blind eye to the alleged cyber attack and persistence in building a gas pipeline to Germany.

Behind the scenes of some, but quite understandable malevolence of the general Russian public, one more fact is invisible. The world economy has taken off its protective mask, gloves and is struggling to restore the lost positions, turnover and income. According to the latest data, the weighted average oil price for the first half of the year was $ 64 per barrel, which is ten percent higher than a year earlier. America under the control of Democrat Biden, who traditionally relies on alternative sources and quarreled with Canada over the construction of a new branch of the oil pipeline, thus pays for its own actions in domestic and foreign policy.

Import of Russian heating oil deserves a separate discussion. Like the base oil, this fuel is not premium due to its high sulfur content. One of the main consumers of fuel oil is the merchant marine fleet, but in 2009 our country joined the International Convention for the Protection of the Sea (Against Pollution with Bunker Fuel). Russia, like other signatories, has pledged to reduce the number of ships operating on fuel oil, gradually switching to more environmentally friendly fuels, one of which is liquefied natural gas. Of course, the transition process is very slow and will take several decades, but the sale of “dirty” Russian fuel oil has become quite difficult.

According to the new tougher rules, bunker fuel should have the minimum possible amount of harmful impurities, which can only be eliminated through additional processing and purification. There are not so many such industrial installations in Russia, they are expensive, and the process of re-equipping our refineries is not going fast.

But at the other end of the world map is the United States, which desperately needs raw materials for their own businesses. It is necessary so much that they are ready not only to pay these uncompromising Russians, but also to indirectly sponsor the technical re-equipment of the Russian oil refining industry.

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