The Western world is gradually ending imports of Russian raw materials. Putin and his oligarchs now have to start looking for new customers. But the export of oil, gas and hard coal is more difficult than expected.
Russia urgently needs new customers. Because the West no longer wants to go shopping in Putin’s commodity store. Within a few weeks, the EU had already shut down hard coal imports from Russia, and oil and natural gas are to follow. You can also go shopping elsewhere on the globe. In addition, Brussels is already increasingly relying on green energy.
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If exports to Europe ceased, Russia would lose up to a billion euros in income every day. Up to 60 percent of Russian state revenues come from the export of these fossil raw materials. Probably even more.
Russia’s kleptocracy lives from the sale of raw materials. Vladimir Putin and the other oligarchs who run and rule the Russian state have nothing else on offer apart from gas, oil and coal – no cars, no computers, no wind turbines, no machines.
Raw material customers have been running away from Russia since the war. Hard coal from opencast mining is also available cheaply from Colombia, South Africa, Australia and Indonesia. Crude oil and natural gas are also mined in large quantities overseas or in the Middle East. And since the western world is switching to renewable energies anyway because of climate protection, this trend is now intensifying because of the Ukraine war. Poor sales prospects for Russia’s oligarchy.
The gaze of the Russian management in the Kremlin thus wanders south to India and east to China. Both major powers have not condemned the attack on Ukraine and do not intend to sanction Russia either. China and India want to buy more natural gas and oil from Russia in the future. In the future. When exactly this future begins, however, is uncertain. It will be difficult this year because the Chinese demand for fossil raw materials in China and India has already been largely covered and existing supplier relationships exist.
Next year could also be tight for the big commodity deal between Moscow, Beijing and New Delhi. But there are no pipelines that could bring the gas from Russia to India or China. A few Indians and Chinese have already bought up supplies of Russian oil at a bargain price because nobody else wanted them.
The voyage of Russian oil tankers to India, however, takes about a month and makes little economic sense in normal times. Some Indian importers are now increasingly banking on Ural oil because it is so cheap at the moment, but apart from these deals on Putin’s rest ramp, no long-term transfers of any size worth mentioning have taken place.
It took decades to build up oil trade between Middle East countries and countries like China and India, experts like Fernando Ferreira, geopolitical risk analyst at energy consultancy Rapidan, argue: “I don’t think either side has an interest in shutting the doors on oil Close the Middle East entirely in favor of Russian barrels,” Ferreira told Deutsche Welle. He sees another problem for Russia. Because of Western sanctions, Russia can hardly buy any more equipment for oil extraction: “Russia will find it difficult to maintain production volumes without access to Western technology.”
It will be even more difficult for Russia to sell the natural gas. Here, Putin’s clique of oligarchs primarily needs pipelines for transport. And in the production of liquefied gas, Russia lags far behind its competitors. A large LNG terminal in Vladivostok is not scheduled to open until 2025.
At the beginning of February, Russia and China reached an agreement that, in addition to oil, natural gas with a volume equivalent to a good 100 billion euros should flow to Beijing over the next 25 years. But how the raw materials are to be transported remains unclear. In addition, this targeted export volume is only a small fraction of the quantities that Putin is now losing on the western sales markets.
So far, only the “Power of Siberia” pipeline leads to China. A second route is being planned, but will not be available until 2030 at the earliest. Until then, Russia can hardly supply much more gas to China than before. And whether Gazprom will be able to finance another pipeline construction in the next few years is now also questionable. Given the Western sanctions and the slump in sales, it is becoming extremely difficult for Russia to get financiers enthusiastic about such a billion-dollar project.
In the long term, the Russians will not remain a major player in global energy markets, Ferreira is convinced: “They simply won’t be the energy power that they are today. Not because they don’t have the resources, but because they don’t have the outlets or the technology to get the fuel out of the ground.”