Oil Exports Via Polish, Ukrainian Ports to Fall

Russian oil exports via the Polish port of Gdansk will nearly dry up in the fourth quarter and drastically fall from a Ukrainian port as Russia seeks to gradually switch to exporting only from its own ports.

Poland and Ukraine have criticized Russia repeatedly for using its energy wealth as an intimidation tool and have called on the European Union to cut its dependence on the country's resources.

Russian officials, including those at pipeline monopoly Transneft, have said some of Europe's diversification plans threaten the stability of Russian supplies and that the country would gradually reroute all of its energy exports from foreign to domestic ports.

Transneft has said the rerouting could happen in 2012, when Russia expands its pipeline system to the Baltic Sea. A quarterly export schedule obtained Wednesday showed that it is planned for much earlier, however.

The export plan for the fourth quarter from October showed shipments from Gdansk would amount to 380,000 tons, or about one large cargo per month, instead of the 1 million to 2.3 million tons per quarter seen throughout 2006 to 2008.

Russian oil re-exports from Gdansk were hit at the start of the year by a commercial dispute between a trader and a pipeline firm.

But the issue of energy supplies often emerges in political debates, especially after Poland agreed to join a U.S. missile-defense shield plan.

The schedule showed that TNK-BP would be the only supplier to Gdansk in the fourth quarter.

No Russian firm would send oil to Odessa, but it would get 1.83 million tons from producers in Kazakhstan, down from the usual 2.4 million to 2.7 million tons per quarter. Kazakhstan must coordinate its oil exports with Russia through major centers.

The export plan for the fourth quarter marked a return to quarterly planning from annual crude oil export schedules after Transneft complained about the lack of flexibility in annual schedules.

The first and last annual schedule was compiled for the second, third and fourth quarters of 2008 and saw overall shipments at 153.42 million tons, which if divided by quarter would give a figure of around 51.14 million tons.