Last year’s oil market volatility shows little sign of abating in 2023, especially in Europe. The long-awaited EU embargo on Russian crude oil imports came into force on 5 December, forcing European buyers who have long relied on Russian Urals crude to look elsewhere for supplies. Indeed, this process began well before 5 December, with ‘self-sanctioning’ swiftly beginning in the aftermath of Russia’s 24 February invasion of Ukraine.

With Russian barrels pushed out of Europe, shipments beyond Europe of local grades such as Norway’s Johan Sverdrup dropped sharply, and imports from further afield increased. Amid a search for a ‘lookalike’ for Urals (31°API, 1.5% sulfur), Middle Eastern grades such as Saudi Arabia’s Arab Light (32-36° API, 1.3-2.2% sulfur) have garnered considerable attention. (CONTINUED - 1085 WORDS)