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Russia to slash oil re-exports via Poland in Q4

Russian oil exports via the Polish port of Gdansk will nearly dry up in the Q4 and drastically fall from a Ukrainian port as Russia says it wants to gradually switch to exporting only from own ports.

Poland and Ukraine have criticized Russia repeatedly for using its energy wealth as an intimidation tool and have called on the European Union to cut its dependence on Russian resources.

Russian officials, including those at pipeline monopoly Transneft, have said that some of Europe’s diversification plans threaten the stability of Russian supplies and the country would gradually re-route all of its energy exports from foreign to domestic ports.

Transneft has said the re-routing could happen in 2012, when Russia expands its pipeline system to the Baltic Sea. However, a quarterly export schedule, obtained by Reuters on Wednesday, showed it is planned for much earlier. The export plan for the Q4 from October showed shipments from Gdansk would amount to 380,000 tons, or about one large cargo per month, instead of the 1.0 million to 2.3 million tons per quarter seen throughout 2006-2008.

Russian oil re-exports from Gdansk were hit at the start of the year by a commercial dispute between a trader and a pipeline firm. But the issue of energy supplies often emerges in political debates, especially after Poland agreed to join a US missile defense shield plan despite harsh opposition by Moscow. The schedule showed BP’s Russian venture TNK-BP would be the only supplier to Gdansk in the Q4.

No Russian firm would send oil to Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odessa, but it would get 1.83 million tons from producers in Kazakhstan, down from the usual 2.4-2.7 million tons per quarter. Kazakhstan must coordinate with Russia its oil exports through major centers. The export plan for the Q4 marked the country’s return to quarterly planning from annual crude oil export schedules after Transneft complained about the lack of flexibility in annual schedules.

The first and last annual schedule was compiled for the second, third and fourth quarters of 2008 and saw overall shipments at 153.42 million tons, which if divided by quarter would give a figure of around 51.14 million tons. The new schedule for the Q4 showed overall shipments would amount to 51.16 million tons, largely unchanged from 50.88 million tons in the Q1, when the last quarterly schedule was compiled. The Q4 schedule also showed oil shipments from Russia’s biggest Black Sea port of Novorossiisk and Baltic Sea port of Primorsk will rise to its highest levels in the past six quarters to compensate for smaller deliveries via other routes. (Reuters)