Moscow November 19 2023: Russia lifted a ban on gasoline exports Nov. 17 after the temporary measure achieved its goal of boosting local supplies and bringing down domestic pump prices, the energy ministry said.
The government introduced the export ban on Euro 5 gasoline products Sept. 21 in a bid to stabilize soaring Russian fuel prices.
Russian refineries over the past two months have secured sufficient domestic supplies by maintaining high processing volumes and have created a surplus of gasoline stocks, the ministry said in a statement. As a result, spot prices on the exchange floor have come off "substantially" and stocks now amount to around 2 million mt, the ministry said. Traders have speculated that Russia could be soon approaching its storage capacity for the fuel.
Recent price relief has been spurred by the end of peak driving season and associated demand, while refineries returning from autumn maintenance have injected additional supplies into the market.
In order to avoid forcing refineries to reduce throughput as prices have cooled, the government has therefore decided to lift the ban, the ministry said.
The authorities will keep monitoring prices and if necessary the export ban measure can be reimplemented, the ministry said.
Russian gasoline exports have typically been conservative, averaging around 300,000-500,000 mt/month. They surged to almost 1 million mt/month at the start of the year; however, due to the seasonally low domestic demand, and partly contributed to the subsequent domestic supply shortages.
"About 10% of gasoline produced in Russia regularly goes to the export market, so we're talking about 4 million-5 million mt/year," Alexander Frolov, deputy director of the country's National Energy Institute, told state news service TASS, adding the lifting of the ban was timely, given subsiding demand.
Russia's gasoline production currently exceeds 40 million mt/year following refinery upgrades, according to S&P Global Commodity Insights data.
Russian media reports first suggested that gasoline export bans could be lifted from last week, with some suggesting that remaining measures restricting diesel exports could be waived.
No mention has been made of relaxed measures for diesel, however, and the rescinded gasoline export ban leaves in effect ongoing controls prohibiting the export of railcar diesel exports, after controls on seaborne exports delivered via pipeline were lifted in early October.
Resumed pipeline flows, which represent the majority of Russian diesel supply, injected some 652,000 b/d of exports to the global market in October, according to S&P Global Commodities at Sea data.
However, flows are still below pre-ban levels, which totaled 915,000 b/d back in August, according to CAS data.