Drone Attacks Force Russia to Import Five Times More Gasoline from Belarus

Russia has dramatically increased its imports of gasoline from Belarus in March, according to industry and trade sources as reported by Reuters. This move aims to address the risk of fuel shortages in the Russian domestic market caused by unscheduled repairs at several Russian refineries following drone attacks.

Russia has historically played the role of a net exporter of fuel and a supplier to international markets, but the disruption from Ukrainian drone attacks on its oil refineries has put it in an awkward position — oil companies have been forced to import gasoline to meet local demand. 

The country had previously banned gasoline exports from March 1 to secure sufficient fuel supplies for its domestic market.

Russia also previously turned to Belarus for gasoline during a similar shortage period from August to October last year. This led to a rapid rise in domestic gasoline prices and prompted another temporary ban on oil product exports.

In the first half of March 2024, Russia’s gasoline imports from Belarus reached nearly 3,000 metric tons, a huge increase from the 590 tons imported in February and no shipments in January, according to sources familiar with the statistics.

Reports say that Russia’s weekly gasoline production is down 14.3% year over year. Drone attacks from Ukraine continue — most recently, Rosneft’s Kuibyshev oil refinery lost half of its refining capacity after a fire engulfed the primary refining unit last Saturday.

Industry sources, who requested anonymity, revealed that discussions on further imports are ongoing between the governments and oil companies of both countries. However, these talks are reportedly difficult as Belarus prioritizes exporting its fuel to international markets.

The extent of Russia’s gasoline import needs from Belarus will depend on the timing of refinery repairs within Russia. Russian oil companies are exploring the possibility of increasing oil supplies to Belarusian refineries in exchange for additional petroleum products to meet domestic demand.

Belarus has two oil refineries, Naftan and Mozyr, with a combined capacity of around 360,000 barrels per day. However, industry sources suggest there are technical bottlenecks that may limit Belarus’s ability to significantly increase production for export to Russia.

Information for this story was found via Reuters, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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