According to statistical data on foreign trade, in the first three quarters of 2018 crude oil was imported to Poland from 9 different countries (taking into account supply volumes of over 500,000 barrels per month). This is the highest number of suppliers recorded in the 21st century. Together with a marked decline in Russia’s share in oil imports to Poland, this points to an intense diversification in the sources of supply of this key raw material.
In the first nine months of 2018, Poland received 100 million barrels of Russian oil, which accounted for 67 per cent of the overall oil imports to Poland. Although the volume of supplies was at a similar level as in the same period of 2017, over the last year Russia’s share in the oil imports has decreased by 10 percentage points. In fact, Russia’s share in oil supplies has been declining since 2012, when the country accounted for 96 per cent of all oil imports to Poland.
At the same time, we are seeing changes in the way crude oil is transported from Russia to Poland. The majority of Russian oil — 81.3 million barrels — is still supplied through pipelines, but this year there was a significant increase in the volume of oil supplies by sea. Between January and September 2018, some 18.7 million barrels were delivered to Poland through the Naftoport oil terminal in Gdańsk, which is 60 per cent more than during the first nine months of 2017. This means that over the course of a year, the share of marine transport in the imports of Russian oil increased from 12 per cent to 20 per cent of the total imported volume. The falling popularity of transport through pipelines probably results from the fact that the oil delivered to Poland is now sourced from different oil fields.
Apart from Russia, the most important supplier of oil to Poland is Kazakhstan. In the period from January to September 2018 the supplies from that country amounted to 18 million barrels, which accounted for 12 per cent of Poland’s overall crude oil imports. The volume of Kazakh oil supplies almost doubled compared to the first nine months of 2017. The third largest supplier of oil to Poland is Saudi Arabia. It accounted for 7 per cent of the imports, which is a share similar to the one recorded in 2016 and 2017. In previous years, it was precisely the import of Saudi oil that contributed to the gradual diversification of oil supplies to Poland.
After crude oil production significantly increased in the United States and the ban on the export of oil from that country was lifted, American tankers started supplying oil to customers all around the world. This was also reflected in Polish oil imports. The first supply of oil from the United States reached Poland in November 2017, and in 2018 the United States became the fourth largest supplier of crude oil to Poland. In the period from January to July, approximately 6 million barrels of oil were imported from the United States based on a forward contract. The contract for the supply of American oil expired in July 2018.
The supplies of crude oil from other countries were based on spot contracts, i.e. they were carried out outside the forward contracts. In the first three quarters of 2018 Polish refineries received oil from OPEC member states — Iraq, Iran, Nigeria — as well as from European producers — Norway and the United Kingdom. In 2018, two supplies of Iranian oil were delivered — in January and in May. Because of the sanctions that the United States once again imposed on Iran, the May delivery was probably the last one for the time being.
One relatively new supplier is Nigeria. The first supply of oil from this country reached Poland in August 2016. Two supplies of crude oil came from Nigeria this year (in May and in June). The list of oil suppliers will become even longer in the second half of 2018.
In November, the Naftoport oil terminal in Gdańsk received a tanker carrying oil from the United Arab Emirates. This was the first delivery of crude oil from this country.
Due to the diversification of crude oil supplies to Poland, an increasing share of the imports are arriving through the ports. In the first three quarters of this year, 45 per cent of crude oil imports reached Poland by sea (compared to 33 per cent in the same period of 2017). In the period from January to September 2018 crude oil was the most important commodity unloaded at the Polish ports. It accounted for 30 per cent of the goods imported to Poland by sea (according to the weight of the cargo). The increase in oil (and also coal) imports by sea contributed to a large increase in the volume of cargo unloaded in the Polish ports in 2018.
The Czech Republic and Hungary have also been successfully implementing a policy of diversification of oil supplies in the recent years. In the Czech Republic in the H1’18 the share of Russian oil decreased to 55 per cent (however, in this case Russia’s share has been already lower than in the other CEE countries, and was 68 percent in the first decade of the 21st century).
The diversification was achieved as a result of an increase in the Czech Republic’s oil imports from Azerbaijan (which currently accounts for 26 per cent of Czech oil imports) and Kazakhstan (which accounts for 14 per cent). A more significant change in the sources of oil imports occurred in Hungary. While in the years 2001-2010 Russia accounted for 97 per cent of imports on average, its share has now dropped to 67 per cent (i.e. by 30 percentage points). This was associated with an increase in supplies from Kazakhstan (which accounts for 16 per cent) and Iraq (which accounts for 8 per cent). Since 2017, Hungary has also been importing oil from Libya. Changes have also taken place in Lithuania. In the H1’18, Russia’s share in oil imports to Lithuania decreased to 62 per cent (compared to 99 per cent in the previous decade). At present, the most important suppliers of oil to the Mažeikiai refinery (owned by a Polish company PKN Orlen) — apart from Russia — include Kazakhstan (27 per cent) and Saudi Arabia (9 per cent).
On the other hand, Russia maintains its dominant position in oil imports to Finland and Slovakia. In the first half of 2018, in Finland 85 per cent of imported oil came from Russia (the remaining part of the supplies mainly came from Norway). Meanwhile, in Slovakia the supplies of Russian oil accounted for 95 per cent of all imports of this commodity.
The article presents the private views of the author and does not an express the official position of Narodowy Bank Polski.