Russia Implements Six-Month Ban on Gasoline Exports Starting March 1

Russia has announced a six-month ban on gasoline exports, effective from March 1. Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin approved the measure, aimed at managing rising demand during the spring and summer months and facilitating planned refinery maintenance. The temporary export ban excludes member states of the Eurasian Economic Union, including Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, as well as Mongolia, Uzbekistan, and the Russian-backed breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

This is the second such ban in less than six months, with the previous one lasting from September to November in 2023. The move is intended to prevent shortages and stabilize domestic fuel prices. Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, in a letter dated February 21, emphasized the need to offset the seasonal increase in demand for fuel and stabilize prices in the domestic market.

The restriction does not apply to planned supplies to specified countries, including those in the Eurasian Economic Union, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia. Last year’s ban excluded only four ex-Soviet states, but this time, a wider range of nations is exempt.

Russia, one of the top petrol producers globally, produced 43.9 million tons of petrol in 2023, exporting around 13% of its production. Major importers of Russian gasoline include African countries such as Nigeria, Libya, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates.

The ban comes amid concerns of potential fuel shortages and follows last year’s export suspension, which also included diesel. To address the increasing demand for diesel, Russia is considering increasing the sales quota on the stock exchange to 16%.

The Kremlin’s decision reflects efforts to manage the domestic fuel market amid economic challenges and international sanctions. With a significant duration of six months, the ban is seen as a strategic move to stabilize fuel prices ahead of the upcoming presidential election on March 15-17. Additionally, the export halt provides space for maintenance and repair of refineries, some of which have faced attacks in recent months amid the conflict in Ukraine. Russia has been voluntarily cutting oil and fuel exports by 500,000 barrels per day in the first quarter as part of OPEC+ efforts to support prices.

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