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Russian crude oil imports not on refinery’s wishlist

An oil worker inspects a pumping jack during drilling operations in an oilfield operated in the village of Otrada, Russia, earlier this year. Bloomberg
An oil worker inspects a pumping jack during drilling operations in an oilfield operated in the village of Otrada, Russia, earlier this year. Bloomberg

Russian crude oil imports not on refinery’s wishlist

Russia is looking to expand its crude oil exports to ASEAN countries – including Cambodia – despite the Kingdom being years away from having refinery capabilities.

The announcement made by the Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak during last week’s Russian-ASEAN summit, comes at a time when Western-backed sanctions and a global fall in oil prices have caused the oil and natural gas giant to seek out new markets.

According to the minister, Russia is looking to create an oil swap scheme with numerous untouched markets.

“Today deliveries are being made as part of swap operations to Malaysia and Singapore. In a perspective, we are also considering deliveries to Thailand, the Philippines and Cambodia,” he said, according to Russian media.

The oil swap schemes could be developed in both long-term and short-term contracts.

“We don’t have reasons for waiving supplies in case there is demand and commercial benefit. We’re ready to supply to the countries that need oil and oil products, this direction is interesting to us,” he said.

Hann Kheing, managing director of the Cambodia Petrochemical Company (CPC), which is building Cambodia’s $2.3 billion landmark oil refinery in Kampot province, said it was unlikely that the company would look towards Russian crude when the facility is completed in 2018.

“Our capacity of 5 million tonnes annually will be very little for the Russian market. And even if the crude remains cheap, long distance shipments are not economical. I don’t think we will take Russian oil because the logistics costs are very high,” he said.

He added that smaller shipments from the Middle East or potentially Northern Europe would make more economic sense.

Chea Socheat, director general of the Ministry of Mines and Energy, said CPC needs to carefully study any agreements for crude oil supply.

“It depends on the company’s decision, but they should consider importing crude from global suppliers very carefully to make sure the transportation costs and the quality of the crude is the most economical for the refinery,” he said.

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