Russia Curbs Gas Exports Amid Worsening Diesel Shortage


Russia issued a temporary ban on the export of gasoline and diesel in response to a worsening fuel shortage, according to a government decree.

The order, signed by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, said the “temporary restrictions” are effective as of Thursday. The energy ministry also said it would prevent unauthorized “gray” exports of motor fuels.

Fuel shortages have been reported nationwide in Russia, which is one of the world’s biggest producers of oil and gas. Wholesale fuel prices have soared across the country.

“Temporary restrictions will help saturate the fuel market, which will in turn reduce prices for consumers,” Russia’s cabinet said in a statement.

Vladimir Putin rides in a train carriage as he takes part in a ceremony inaugurating the new public transportation network in Moscow on November 21, 2019. Russia has issued a temporary ban on the export of gasoline and diesel in response to a worsening fuel shortage, according to a government decree.

Russian newspaper Izvestia reported last month that there were gasoline shortages at fuel stations nationwide, including in the cities of Astrakhan, Volgograd, Saratov, Ryazan and Novosibirsk, as well as in the Republic of Kalmykia.

Days later, on September 6, Russian Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev said these fuel shortages were threatening to disrupt fall harvesting and sowing.

“We already have problems with the availability [of fuel]. We will now stop harvesting, and we will not sow winter crops. It will be a disaster,” Patrushev was quoted by state-run news agency Interfax as saying. “Maybe it’s time to temporarily stop exports of oil products until we stabilize the situation on the domestic market.”

Trent Telenko, a former official at the Pentagon’s Defense Contract Management Agency who has studied Russian military logistics, said on X on September 9 that there is an on-going, extensive and systemic fuel distribution problem in Russia.”

Russian oil and gas analyst Mikhail Krutikhin told the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta that oil companies, due to sanctions, have found it more profitable to sell everything abroad.

“That is, to export as much as possible and get at least some money there,” said Krutikhin. “Moreover, this is happening throughout the country; even in the Far East, fuel shortages have begun to be felt. They export everything that is possible.”

The decision to issue a temporary ban on gas exports comes a day after Russia’s energy minister, Alexander Novak, vowed a “radical solution” to stabilize domestic fuel prices.

“The goal is to keep prices on the domestic market and not increase them, which is what vertical (integrated) companies, in principle, succeed in doing. A disproportion has arisen in the wholesale market,” Novak said.

“We are now working to balance the wholesale market, and we see that over the last two wholesale sessions on the stock exchange, wholesale prices have been declining. This causes the market to balance.”

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