Higher crude oil and fuel prices allowed Russian revenues to climb in May despite its export volumes slipping due to sanctions, the International Energy Agency said on Wednesday.
The findings underscore the difficulty of punishing Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine by banning Russian imports, moves which have exacerbated a supply crunch and driven up prices.
Crude exports held steady on the month at 5.4 million barrels per day (bpd) but refined product shipments slipped 155,000 bpd compared to April to 2.4 million bpd.
“With higher crude oil and product prices globally, Russian oil export revenues are estimated to have increased by $1.7 billion in May to about $20 billion,” the Paris-based agency said in its monthly oil report.
The United States and the European Union agreed to ban imports of Russian oil and imposed escalating sanctions in response to the Feb. 24 invasion.
Despite the bans, the EU remained the main destination for Russian exports last month, making up 43% of Russian flows followed by just over a quarter to China.
China’s imports of Russian oil and fuel rose by nearly a quarter of a million bpd in May, topping 2 million bpd for the first time, with India taking Germany’s place as the number two destination for Russian shipments in recent months.
Oil prices held above $120 a barrel on Wednesday on persistent concerns about tight supply worldwide.
“Russian crude oil exports remain at elevated levels as domestic refining activity is constrained by lower product shipments,” said the IEA, a grouping of 31 mostly industrialized countries but not Russia.
“China and India, which have both sharply increased crude oil purchases from Russia, are net product exporters and have no need to lift Russian products.”