Russia relaxes rules in attempt to boost oil exports, say traders

Russian ports are being allowed to operate during more severe storms, while non ice-class vessels are being allowed to sail more often during winter, according to reports from local traders and new regulations have indicated.

Following the EU oil embargo, Russia has had to rely mainly on transit by sea rather than by westbound pipeline. Russian pipeline monopoly Transneft, which also runs oil terminals, is seeking to optimise its storm notification system in Novorossiysk on the Black Sea to increase time for loadings ahead and after a storm.

Three traders involved in Russian oil exports said that ports had received unofficial recommendations to continue loadings during storms and ease controls regarding ice as much as possible. This would allow more tankers in the ports.

One of them told Reuters that loading had continued at Novorossiysk when waves were two-to-three metres high, while the official limit was 1.5 metres for a vessel to moor.

Russia has also eased ice class restrictions for tankers entering its Baltic ports, including the main export outlets Primorsk and Ust-Luga, the traders said.

The revised regulations allow tankers that are not designed to navigate through sea ice to enter ports with ice breaker assistance when ice is between 15cm and 30cm thick