Russia ships naphtha to China via Northern Sea Route

In an unusual move, Russia is shipping a cargo of naphtha to China via the Northern Sea Route (NSR), reports Reuters, citing Refinitiv data showed. The SCF Irtysh, which had 37,000 tonnes of naphtha that was loaded at Ust-Luga port on August 5th, is the first such loading since at least the late 2000s, two traders said. The supplier of the cargo was thought to be Gazprom Neft.

Naphtha is a volatile flammable liquid hydrocarbon mixture.

Oil supplies via the NSR to China make take seve-to-10 days less than travelling via Suez, but shippers have to use ice-class ships and ice breakers, which adds costs to the journey. Russia is aiming to start year-round NSR supplies from 2024 with a help of ice breakers.

In 2022 Russia supplied some 35 million tons via NSR including crude oil, LNG, coal and metals. That volume is expected to remain little changed this year.

Russia’s oil supplies via NSR to China remain small; about 0.5m tonnes have been shipped so far this year. Five tankers, loaded from Murmansk, Primorsk and Ust-Luga ports over July-August, were sent to China via NSR. (IMN August 15th for fuller details of these cargoes).

Russia has pledged to cut oil exports by 500,000 barrels per day in August and by 300,000 bpd in September as a part of its OPEC+ cooperation.

2009-built, Liberia-flagged, 29,967 gt SCF Irtysh is owned by Skyler SA care of Sun Ship management of Dubai, UAE. It departed Ust-Luga, Russia, on August 5th, en route to Zhuhai, China, ETA September 6th.