Russia Suffers A Blow In Battle Over European Oil Markets

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Sweden undercut Russia’s hold on the European energy market by importing crude oil from Saudi Arabia for the first time in 20 years.

Russia relies heavily on Europe’s dependence on oil imports both economically and diplomatically, giving them leverage over European powers in global affairs. Reuters reports that Preem, Sweden’s largest oil refiner is looking to Saudi Arabia to create some competition in the sector.

Preem’s first purchase of Saudi Arabian crude in more than two decades is another blow to Russia’s Urals crude, which has historically supplied European states’ oil demands. Saudi Arabia’s bold move will add to the already tense energy standoff between the two powers, Reuters reports.

Sweden is following the lead of Poland’s refineries, which have already forgone Russian oil for Saudi crude. The deputy head of Lotos, one of two Polish refineries said the move to Saudi oil, “made our negotiation position [with Russia]  much stronger,” reports The Economic Times.

Saudi Arabia has been at odds with Russia over eastern energy markets, competing for Chinese demand. China has been expanding their domestic oil reserves, with Russia securing the first victory over the OPEC giant by supplying China with East Siberia-Pacific Ocean crude through a direct pipeline. Russia’s oil industry has so far withstood the headwinds of cheap crude and contracting global energy demand.

State oil company Saudi Aramco said Thursday it would drop the already low price of oil for sales to northwest Europe, a move that will further intensify the Russian-Saudi conflict over the European oil market. Reuters reports that Sweden will be analyzing over the next few months whether it can boost its oil imports from Saudi Arabia in the future.

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