LONDON - Tunisia imported record volumes of Russian gasoil and diesel last month as an EU embargo forced Moscow to find new customers for its oil products, according to traders and tracking data.
Tunisia imported nearly 77,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Russian gasoil and diesel in February, compared with 20,000 bpd in January and 25,000 bpd in December last year, data from analytics firm Kpler showed.
Most of the February volumes were delivered by Russia's Lukoil and Dubai-based trader Coral Energy, the Kpler data showed. In January, Coral delivered all of Tunisia's Russian imports, the data showed.
Russia used to be the main diesel supplier for Europe, accounting for roughly 60% of the continent's needs.
A full EU embargo on Russian oil products, which went into effect on Feb. 5, disrupted this trade massively, forcing Moscow to find new clients for its distillates and other oil products.
According to Refinitiv tracking data, Russian and Baltic diesel flows to Europe fell to a record low of 1.77 million tonnes in February.
Almost half of these volumes were heading to Turkey while the rest are mostly bound to locations where ship-to-ship transfers take place.
Russia has also been diverting low-sulphur diesel volumes from its Baltic ports to Morocco, Algeria, Ghana, and Brazil.
At the same time, Europe countries have been replacing Russian diesel supplies with increased imports from India, Saudi Arabia, China, Kuwait, Malaysia, among other locations.
European diesel profit margins which hit an all-time record of about $81 a barrel in October last year, according to Reuters assessments, have since come off significantly to about $30 a barrel amid heavy imports and mild weather.
"Everyone stocked up pre-ban and it seems the demand hasn't quite come back yet," one trader said.
Gasoil and diesel stocks held in independent in the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp refining and storage area eased slightly in the past week, but that came after four weeks of gains, according to Dutch consultancy Insights Global.
(Reporting by Ahmad Ghaddar and Rowena Edwards, Editing by Louise Heavens)