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Opinion
Julian Lee

Putin's Few Oil Buyers Demand Deep Discounts

Russia is still selling plenty of its crude, but the shrinking pool of buyers is throwing its weight around

Russia is resorting to big discounts to sell its oil.

Russia is resorting to big discounts to sell its oil.

Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

North American import bans and self-sanctioning by refiners and traders in Europe have barely dented the flow of crude from Russian ports, with volumes successfully diverted east.

But switching flows to Asia, where India has emerged as Russia’s second-biggest customer, has concentrated Moscow’s dependence on an ever-shrinking pool of buyers. China and India now purchase two-thirds of all the crude exported by sea from Russia; at least half of the crude exported by pipeline from Russia also goes to China.