Russia bans diesel fuel and petrol exports

Russia has imposed a temporary ban on the export of petrol and diesel in an attempt to stabilize its domestic market.

Four ex-Soviet states have been excepted from the ban. “Temporary restrictions will help saturate the fuel market, which in turn will reduce prices for consumers,” the Kremlin said.

The energy ministry added that the measure would prevent unauthorised “grey” exports of motor fuels.

Russia in recent months has been suffering shortages of petrol and diesel, leading to a spike in wholesale prices. Fuel is crucial for grain harvesting season in the south.

The ban does not apply to fuel supplied under intergovernmental agreements with members of the “Eurasian Economic Union”, which includes Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.

The Russian fuel market has been hit by factors including (a lack of) maintenance at oil refineries, bottlenecks on railways and a weakness of the rouble, which incentivizes fuel exports. While the exports generate foreign currency, Russia also has a need for fuel at home.

Russia cut its seaborne diesel and gasoil exports by nearly 30% in the first 20  days of September, to about 1.7m tonnes.

The restrictions do not apply to the transportation of fuel by individuals for personal use, petrol and diesel in storage containers for use on the road, deliveries to South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and fuel already undergoing customs procedures. The Russian government had been reported as considering two options for stabilizing fuel prices: either a complete ban on the export of petroleum products for a certain period, or increasing the export duty to $250 per ton on petroleum products.