Russia boosts fuel exports to Central Asia, Afghanistan and Mongolia in 2023

(Reuters) - Central Asian countries, Afghanistan and Mongolia raised their imports of Russian fuel by around 28% in 2023 to almost 6 MMt, partially offseting a decline in Russian supplies to Europe, according to traders and industry data.

Russia has drastically cut supplies of commodities, including oil and gas, to Europe amid deteriorating relations over the conflict in Ukraine.

Afghanistan's Taliban government doubled purchases of Russian liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) last year to 103,850 tons, while Russia tripled gasoline exports to the country in 2023 to 325,000 tons, according to the data.

Russia has not formally recognized the Taliban as the legitimate government in Afghanistan, but was one of the first countries to make contacts and clinch business deals with the group following its return to power in 2021.

A year later, Afghanistan and Russia signed a deal for gasoline, diesel, gas and wheat supplies after Moscow offered the Taliban administration a discount to average global commodity prices.

The move was the first known major international economic deal struck by the Taliban since it returned to power.

Russia supplies fuel to Central Asia mainly via railways, while pipeline exports of diesel to the region account for some 9% of total deliveries to the ex-Soviet republics of Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Russian oil pipeline monopoly Transneft said this week that it increased fuel supplies to Central Asia by 29.3% to 530,000 tons in 2023.

According to traders and industry data, Russian gasoline exports to Central Asia, Mongolia and Afghanistan jumped by a third last year to 2.441 million tons.

Supplies of diesel to those markets increased by 26% to 2.943 million tons, while flows of jet fuel rose by 21% to 554,000 tons.

Fuel oil exports jumped 2.8 times to 719,500 tons, while bitumen and LPG deliveries doubled to 500,000 tons and 469,000 tons respectively.

Mongolia accounted for most of Russian motor fuel supplies. It imported 708,000 tons of gasoline via railways last year, an increase of 12%. Its diesel purchases rose 39% to 1.222 million tons.

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