Pak Oil Refineries Refuse To Buy Russian Oil
ISLAMABAD – While National Refinery Limited has excused from the import of Russian crude oil, all the refineries showing their limitations have said that the transportation cost, increase voyage time, low/no capacity to process it, payment procedure and the long term contract with Middle Eastern suppliers are the main hurdles in the way of the Russian oil import.
“We have a long term agreement with Saudi Aramco and maintaining current appetite/ feed of lube refineries we may not be able to process any other crude unless the techno/economic study suggests otherwise,” National Refinery Limited said in a letter (available with The Nation) to the Petroleum Division.
In response to the Petroleum Division’s letter on the import of Russian crude oil, the National Refinery Ltd has said that NRL has lube refineries and the configuration of the refineries restricts the list of feedstock. We have been from time to time unsuccessfully trying to identify alternate feedstock to Arabian light crude, which suits the refinery configuration.
“The normal sailing time from the Middle Eastern ports is about 4 days, whereas not being aware of the port of shipment ex-Russia and the possible route, it is estimated that the voyage time (one way) would be about 20 days. Moreover, the route is likely to pass through war zones,” said the letter.
“To our understanding presently the import L/Cs are not being confirmed by international banks because of country risk. Doable payments methodology can be arranged by government. NRL’s long term contract is with Saudi Aramco only, from where we are importing Arabian light crude oil required by our lube refineries. Also the government has SFD arrangement, with the government of Saudi Arabia.”
In response to the Petroleum Division letter on the import of Russian crude, Pakistan Refinery Limited (PRL) has said that PRL has evaluated Major Russian crudes Sokol, ESPO and Urals blend crude based on the data made available to us and the subsequent testing results. Our viewpoint is as under:
As per the view point of PRL Sokol, basically a light and sweet crude, Sokol has higher middle distillates and low fuel oil contents. Sokol would always be the first-choice crude for PRL when compared with other available grades.
ESPO blend: Espo is a fairly sweeter crude with a medium-light blend. However, its only demerit is higher quantum of Fuel oil, and its disposal will always be a daunting task. c) Urals blend: it’s a mix of both heavy, light & sour crudes. Urals sulphur content varies from 1.4% to 2.8%. Higher sulphur content variation in this crude will naturally reflect in its product slate thereby making it difficult for the refiner to meet the stipulated product sulphur specification. This crude also contains higher volumes of Fuel Oil and will always pose difficulties in product disposal.
However, detailed assays and samples of are needed to evaluate the physical and chemical properties of these crudes and their product streams.
Quantity and grades of subject crudes to be required by the refinery, Considering the highlighted points in and other available information’s and Urals with 1.4-1.6 % sulfur max, all above mentioned Russian crudes can be processed in PRL with a blend ratio of Sokol 75%, ESPO 50% and Urals 35% respectively.
The PRL current preference is Sokol crude. However, final decision on the procurement of the subject crude will be made after evaluating its economic viability in comparison with crudes that are currently being processed at PRL.
Transportation/freight analysis for import from Russia in comparison with normal imports from Middle East, cost & benefit analysis a) PRL import major chunk of its crudes oil from middle east region whose freight varies between 1.0-1.5 dollar per barrel. b) Freight charges from KOZMINO load port RUSSIA to Karachi is 8.0 dollar/barrels as quoted by national carrier as provisional quote. Similarly, the sea voyage time from KOZMINO port to Karachi is approximately 22 days.
Payment Methodology Confirmed Letter of Credit (L/C) in USD from first class bank will be required for payments. However, it is pertinent to mention here that presently all Pakistani banks are not willing to open LCs for Russian Origin crudes.
Existing commitment of upliftment from Arab Gulf region with respect to term contracts a) According to current term contracts with ADNOC, ARAMCO and KPC 1.2 million MT/ 9.0 million barrels per year are required to be uplifted. b) PRL, after fulfilling its current crude oil Term Contracts obligations can explore the possibility of processing additional 300,000-400,000 MT/year.
PARCO in its response said that initial technical assessments on the basis of crude oil, assays of Russian Grades indicate that some of the Russian crude grades are technically suitable for processing at MCR in the range of 15-30% of the crude oil blend by replacing some of the existing grades.
Maximum one or two cargos of 70,000 MT of Russian can be processed at MCR in a month. Furthermore, since most of the Russian crude oils are heavier than our imported grades, therefore, to manage product mix, these can be processed by replacing Arab Light crude oil.
We have learnt that our Crude Oil Transportation Carrier (PNSC) is not permitted to call on Russian ports, therefore, alternate transportation arrangements would be required through supplier or trader. The current transportation freight for import from Russian Ports is estimated in the range of $ 3.0-3.5 million compared to current freight of $ 0.8-1.0 from Middle Eastern ports.
The sea voyage from Black Sea ports would also be around 16-25 days compared to 4-5 days from Middle Eastern Ports.
As per our understanding, payment in US dollars may not be acceptable to Russian companies. Therefore, payment mechanism will have to be devised between Pakistan and Russia and Local banks need to be supported on payment in Rubbles and to be facilitated for settlement of funds.
It was further responded that PARCO has term contracts with Saudi Aramco and ADNOC with committed upliftment of 110.000 barrels per day (06 cargoes per month) While Term contract with KPC is also in the process of finalization for upliftment on need basis. These commitments are sufficient enough to meet our crude oil requirements. Since Russian origin crude oil can only be processed in a certain quantity (15-30%), for a limited period, we can manage procurement of Russian origin crude oil without compromising on our existing obligations of Term Contracts with Aramco and ADNOC. However, in order to uplift Russian Crude Oils on regular basis, we may have to reduce our contractual volumes in the medium to long term.