Which Countries are Buying Russian Fossil Fuels?
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The Countries Buying Russian Fossil Fuels Since the Invasion
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A year on from Russia’s initial invasion of Ukraine, Russian fossil fuel exports are still flowing to various nations around the world.
According to estimates from the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), since the invasion started about a year ago, Russia has made more than $315 billion in revenue from fossil fuel exports around the world, with nearly half ($149 billion) coming from EU nations.
This graphic uses data from the CREA to visualize the countries that have bought the most Russian fossil fuels since the invasion, showcasing the billions in revenue Russia has made from these exports.
Top Importers of Russian Fossil Fuels
As one might expect, China has been the top buyer of Russian fossil fuels since the start of the invasion . Russia’s neighbor and informal ally has primarily imported crude oil, which has made up more than 80% of its imports totaling more than $55 billion since the start of the invasion.
The EU’s largest economy, Germany, is the second-largest importer of Russian fossil fuels, largely due to its natural gas imports worth more than $12 billion alone.
|Country||Total Value of Russian Fossil Fuel Imports*||Crude Oil||Natural Gas||Coal|
|🇰🇷 South Korea||$6.0B||$1.8B||$0.8B||$3.5B|
*Over the time period of Feb 24, 2022 to Feb 26, 2023 in U.S. dollars
Turkey, a member of NATO but not of the EU, closely follows Germany as the third-largest importer of Russian fossil fuels since the invasion. The country is likely to overtake Germany soon, as not being part of the EU means it isn’t affected by the bloc’s Russian import bans put in place over the last year.
Although more than half of the top 20 fossil fuel importing nations are from the EU, nations from the bloc and the rest of Europe have been curtailing their imports as bans and price caps on Russian coal imports, crude oil seaborne shipments, and petroleum product imports have come into effect.
Russia’s Declining Fossil Fuel Revenues
The EU’s bans and price caps have resulted in a decline of daily fossil fuel revenues from the bloc of nearly 85%, falling from their March 2022 peak of $774 million per day to $119 million as of February 22nd, 2023.
Although India has stepped up its fossil fuel imports in the meantime, from $3 million daily on the day of the invasion to $81 million per day as of February 22nd of this year, this increase doesn’t come close to making up the $655 million hole left by EU nations’ reduction in imports.
Similarly, even if African nations have doubled their Russian fuel imports since December of last year, Russian seaborne oil product exports have still declined by 21% overall since January according to S&P Global .
Other Factors Impacting Revenues
Overall, from their peak on March 24th of around $1.17 billion in daily revenue, Russian fossil fuel revenues have declined by more than 50% to just $560 million daily.
Along with the EU’s reductions in purchases, a key contributing factor has been the decline in Russian crude oil’s price, which has also declined by nearly 50% since the invasion, from $99 a barrel to $50 a barrel today.
Whether these declines will continue is yet to be determined. That said, the EU’s 10th set of sanctions , announced on February 25th, ban the import of bitumen, related materials like asphalt, synthetic rubbers, and carbon blacks and are estimated to reduce overall Russian export revenues by almost $1.4 billion.
Charted: Global Energy Consumption by Source, and Carbon Emissions (1900-2021)
Despite the advent of renewable sources of energy, fossil fuels and their carbon emissions, haven’t gone anywhere.
Where does our energy come from, and how has this mix changed over the last 100 years?
These charts from Truman Du examine the complex relationship between energy production, consumption, and related carbon emissions using information from Our World in Data .
The World’s Energy Mix (1900-2021)
In the last 10 years, total global energy consumption has risen nearly 15% . Before that, between 2000 and 2010, it increased by nearly 25% .
And despite frequent headlines about green initiatives over the last few years, fossil fuels continue to account for the majority of total energy consumption.
In 2021, 77% of global energy was sourced from coal, oil, and gas.
Even so, renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and hydro have gained traction since the year 2000. Hydropower was the biggest renewable energy source in 2021, accounting for 6.3% of total energy consumed.
A Fossil Fuel Heavy Mix
Taking a closer look at the breakdown of energy by source, another strong (if slightly counterintuitive) trend appears to be holding its own.
Coal has remained a key source of the world’s energy consumption since 1900. Despite its relative share decreasing over time, as of 2021, coal remains the second biggest energy source, accounting for 25% of the world’s energy needs. All figures below are in TWh (terrawatt-hours).
|Global Energy Consumption||1900||1950||2000||2010||2021|
|Solar||-||-||3 TWh||94 TWh||2,702 TWh|
|Wind||-||-||93 TWh||962 TWh||4,872 TWh|
|Nuclear||-||-||7,323 TWh||7,374 TWh||7,031 TWh|
|Hydro||47 TWh||925 TWh||7,826 TWh||9,518 TWh||11,183 TWh|
|Gas||64 TWh||2,092 TWh||23,994 TWh||31,589 TWh||40,375 TWh|
|Oil||181 TWh||5,444 TWh||42,881 TWh||47,895 TWh||51,170 TWh|
|Coal||5,728 TWh||12,603 TWh||27,428 TWh||41,996 TWh||44,473 TWh|
|Total||12,131 TWh||28,564 TWh||122,745 TWh||152,966 TWh||176,431 TWh|
From its crucial role in the Industrial Revolution, to its relative cheapness and useful byproducts, coal isn’t close to being phased out anytime soon. In fact, it has seen a resurgence in powering India and China’s growing economies in the 21st century.
As fossil fuel use has increased in absolute terms, so have carbon emissions.
Carbon Emissions in 1900 vs. 2020
China, the U.S., India, Russia, and Japan are the top five emitters in the world, responsible for 60% of the world’s total emissions in 2020.
As these countries include the world’s largest economic powers, some believe emissions are a necessary byproduct of economic growth. Though there are exceptions, this seems to have held true on average, as studies show a 1% change in GDP is correlated with a 0.072 change in carbon dioxide emissions.
When looking at the chart of carbon emissions below, China’s journey of economic growth in the latter half of the 20th century exemplifies this.
China’s emissions increased dramatically, rising by six times from 1978 to 2018 alone, driven primarily by economic growth.
Here’s a breakdown of the top 50 biggest emitters in the world in 2020 versus 1900. All figures are in units of 100 million tons, and are rounded for simplicity.
|Rank||Country||1900 Emissions||Country||2020 Emissions|
The data also highlights the shift in the global economy between developed and developing economies.
In the 1900s, the largest emitters were the U.S. and other industrialized nations. In the later data set, developing economies like India, Brazil, and Indonesia have moved up the list as more significant carbon emitters as well.
The accounting for carbon emissions can change with international trade, depending on how emissions are counted and attributed.
Should emissions generated from a manufactured good be assigned to the country where the good was made, or to the place where the good was ultimately consumed? Adjusting emissions based on imports and exports can help us look at these differences.
Richer economies that import lots of goods, like the U.S., UK, or Germany tend to have higher consumption-based emissions.
Meanwhile, for high-growth countries like China, India, Iran, and South Africa, the inverse is true: their production-based emissions are higher than their consumption-based emissions.
Cumulative Carbon Emissions
When taking into account emissions from the Industrial Revolution to 2020, nearly every continent has contributed large amounts of carbon emissions—but key leaders emerge.
Here is the full breakdown:
According to the UN, the world will need to cut emissions by 32 Gt more than what countries have already promised in order to achieve the 1.5 °C target outlined in the Paris Agreement.
As you can see in this data, how or if this happens will likely be driven largely by the future of our energy sources and consumption.
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