About S&P Global Commodity Insights

Powering the Markets

S&P Global Platts and IHS Markit ENR combine to become S&P Global Commodity Insights. S&P Global Commodity Insights brings together highly complementary capabilities to power the markets of the future.

Assessments & Benchmarks

We engage with market participants and evolve rigorous methodologies for assessments that reflect a commodity’s true value. Along with news and market commentary, our assessments help you make successful trading decisions.

Workflow Solutions

We partner with you to enhance workflows, increase efficiency and optimize business processes by leveraging AI-driven software and applications, integrated platforms and machine delivery.

Research & Insights

We develop deep, interconnected industry analysis and forecasts across the full energy and commodities value chain. Subscriptions to our market insights and analysis include access to subject matter experts.

Conferences & Advisory Solutions

We provide consulting services on current challenges such as renewables and energy transition, and host education sessions, webinars, and premier events like CERAWeek and Global Power Markets. 

Together we are helping companies like yours with highly relevant information, expert analysis, and workflow solutions you need to maintain your competitive edge.

Factbox: As SWIFT ban hits banks, spotlight turns on how Russia sells its oil

Concern is growing over the impact that a ban announced Feb. 26 on Russian banks using the SWIFT international payment system could have on the trading of Urals crude oil.

Russia's key grade shipped to Europe and the US is medium sour Urals. This crude is mainly sourced from fields in European Russia and West Siberia and is priced against S&P Global Platts Dated Brent.

Although the SWIFT ban does not target oil specifically, trading companies use banks as intermediaries for transactions, letters of credit and clearing services.

"It will likely make many buyers more hesitant to purchase Russian oil. That will tend to drive down the price of Russian crude oil even more until it ultimately clears outside of its traditional markets in Europe," said Rick Joswick, head of Global Oil Analytics at S&P Global Platts Analytics.

Before the SWIFT sanction, Urals crude was assessed at its lowest level ever relative to Dated Brent on Feb. 24 but edged 7.5 cents/b higher Feb. 25 amid a lack of indications during the Platts Market on Close assessment process.

The following is a breakdown of how this crude is traded.

Trade flows

Russian Urals grade has the biggest share of Europe's market for crude, supplying about a quarter of the region's oil and condensates imports.

-- Around 1 million b/d of Urals is shipped to market via the major Druzhba pipeline.

  • The Northern branch of the line runs through Belarus and supplies refineries in Poland and Germany. The Southern branch runs through Ukraine, and supplies refineries in Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
  • Most of this crude is supplied under long-term contracts. Druzhba always contains technical oil, which allows crude to be delivered immediately following conclusion of contract paperwork.

Related infographic: Russian invasion of Ukraine puts spotlight on security of oil, gas and commodities flows

-- Between 1.5-1.8 million b/d of Urals is also shipped via the ports of Primorsk and Ust-Luga on the Baltic Sea, and Novorossiisk on the Black Sea.

  • Crude shipped from the Baltic Sea ports takes an average of 5-6 days to reach Rotterdam and is supplied in Aframax tankers of around 720,000 barrels. Crude shipped from Novorossiisk takes around 5-7 days to reach Augusta and is shipped on tankers of either 586,000 barrels, or 1 million barrels.
  • Available volumes are published in a loading program approved by the energy ministry, with details provided for each 10-day period of the month, and then a final monthly program.
  • Programs are sometimes amended due to disruptions including bad weather. These programs are released to market participants in stages. The first five days of the program are released on the 15th of the preceding month, followed by the first 10 days and subsequently the full month a few days later.

-- Another route to market for Russia is the Eastern Siberia Pacific Ocean (ESPO) blend crude into Asia.

  • Russia is the second-largest crude supplier to China, delivering 1.6 million b/d of crude in 2021, according to China's General Administration of Customs.
  • Russia's seaborne spot crude exports to China include ESPO Blend loaded from Kozmino, Sokol from De-Kastri and Sakhalin Blend from Prigorodnoye, as well as Urals loaded from the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiisk.

Methods of trading

Urals is traded in three main ways -- through term contracts, tenders, and on the spot market.

-- Term contracts

  • Term contracts cover amounts of crude to be supplied each month. They are often associated with forward contracts, in which a certain volume and quality is supplied each month or quarter. The most common is Rosneft term contracts, in which participants purchase Rosneft's equity in the Urals market over a fixed period of time.
  • Typically, trading houses purchase term contracts and then resell cargoes in the spot market. Under this system, the seller informs the buyer of volumes available, loading dates and locations, and amounts are then agreed, usually within one calendar day.
  • The buyer nominates a vessel to the seller no later than five calendar days before the first day of the nominated loading date range, stating the vessel's name, tonnage, draught and other operating characteristics. Within one business day from the date of vessel nomination the seller accepts the vessel or requests a substitution.

-- Tenders

  • There are two forms of tenders in the Urals market. Firstly, there are sell tenders, where entities with equity in the Urals market award cargoes to the highest bidder. Sell tenders involve companies offering a set cargo loading on specific dates and quality. The most common is Surgutneftegaz tenders in which participants are allowed to submit bids for cargoes offered by Surgut, the tender is awarded to the buyer with the highest bidder.
  • Secondly, refiners will also offer buy tenders. This includes PKN and Hellenic which often request a set amount of crude and quality to load on certain dates. This tender is awarded to the seller with the lowest offer from market participants. Unlike other markets, tender data is easily shared among market participants, increasing liquidity and transparency in the market.

-- Spot market

  • Most Russian crude is originally sold on a free on board (FOB) basis. This means that responsibility for the cargo after it is supplied lies with the buyer. The alternative, cost, insurance and freight (CIF), places responsibility for delivery to the destination on the seller. Unlike other grades in the region, Urals trades very promptly, with spot trading occurring only a couple of weeks before cargoes are loaded.
  • Crude tenders are supplied under letters of credit, which are largely dollar denominated. Payment terms are usually within 30 days and are mainly dollar denominated.
  • A common example of this is the frequency of Urals trading on the Platts Market on Close assessment process.

Key players

Russia is the largest producer in the OPEC+ alliance alongside Saudi Arabia, accounting for about 10% of total global supply. Urals crude is a staple for refiners in Northwest Europe and the Mediterranean.

-- Key buyers include Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Finland, Lithuania, Greece, Romania, Turkey and Bulgaria. Russia is also a major supplier to the US and China.

  • Urals producers -- Rosneft, Gazprom Neft, Socar, KazMunaiGaz, Surgutneftegaz.
  • Urals traders -- Glencore, Vitol, Trafigura, and Gunvor.

-- BP has the biggest interest of any of the major international oil companies in Russian oil through its 20% shareholding in the giant Rosneft, which itself accounts for 6% of global supply.

  • Majors -- Shell, BP, Totalenergies, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Eni, Repsol, Conoco, Lukoil.
  • Refiners of Urals -- Saras, ERG, Philips 66, Hellenic Petroleum, Neste, PKN Orlen, Preem, Paz Oil, INA, Tupras, OMV.

Key risks

Under normal circumstances, Urals is a reliable crude stream for traders with the exception of the 2019 contamination incident and adverse sea conditions at its major export terminals.

-- Ports are regularly impacted by adverse weather conditions.

  • Weather conditions frequently impact delivery times for seaborne supplies especially for loadings from Novorossiisk in the Black Sea.
  • Contamination of oil in the Druzhba pipeline in 2019 led to major supply disruptions.

-- How will sanctions and exclusion from SWIFT impact trades?

  • Financial sanctions on trading with Russian companies include restricting Russia's access to the US dollar, reduction in the availability of US dollar credit and the SWIFT financial messaging system.
  • Traders may use "sleeving" through a third party if necessary, although that involves a "sleeving" fee and additional financial risk. Russia has also trialed payments in alternative currencies and developed an alternative system to SWIFT.

Connect Now

Other Articles

Infographic: Insufficient lithium supply could decelerate energy transition

Lithium is a key raw material for electric vehicles and energy storage systems, but the lack of investment in new supply in previous years might generate a structural deficit throughout this decade, data from the expected supply versus expected demand (both until 2030) demonstrates.

Steel versus plastics: The race to sustainability

S&P Global Platts looks at the supply, demand, and price drivers of today’s growing recycled plastics market, as well as the opportunities and challenges of the plastics sector in a circular economy.

Oil Security Sentinel™

An interactive editorial project exploring the changing relationship between geopolitical risk and the price of crude. This analysis shows how diversity of supply, higher levels of global spare capacity and the expansion of strategic petroleum reserves have helped to insulate markets from the risk of supply disruptions in the Middle East and beyond.

Infographic: Russian invasion of Ukraine puts spotlight on security of oil, gas and commodities flows

Conflict in Ukraine following Russian troops launching attacks across international borders on Feb. 24, has already had a major impact on prices of key commodities from oil and gas through to steel and grains. Europe is heavily reliant on gas and Urals crude via the Druzhba pipeline to refiners across the region.

Reckoning with renewables: As carbon certifiers tighten rules, renewable energy may re-evaluate options

Amid a growing collection of corporate net-zero claims and growing evidence of the devastating consequences of climate change, there has been increasing focus on voluntary carbon credit projects that claim to either reduce, avoid or remove greenhouse gas emissions.

Listen: Hydrogen and the path towards decarbonization

Hydrogen has received extraordinary policy support over the past year, with nations worldwide racing to publish national hydrogen strategies. These roadmaps provide a decade-long pathway to developing wide-scale utilization of low-carbon hydrogen as a means to achieving deep decarbonization in otherwise problematic sectors.

ANZ bank takes minority stake in energy transition focused advisory firm Pollination

Australian banking and financial services company ANZ will invest US$50 million for a minority equity stake in Pollination, an Australia-based investment and advisory firm focused on climate change, they said in a joint statement Feb. 16, adding that the partnership aims to drive the transition to net-zero and support biodiversity.

Banks seeking to finalize framework for steel decarbonization in Q2

A group of banks including ING, Citi and Goldman Sachs, plan to finalize a framework for lending to support the global steel industry's decarbonization efforts during the second quarter, following further dialogue with stakeholders including steel companies and industry groups.

ExxonMobil urges financiers to push for carbo pricing, low-carbon incentive policies

The vice president of ExxonMobil's new low-emission technology business called on financiers to join the energy industry in pushing for policies that incentivize investments in low carbon developments, especially policies that would introduce carbon pricing.

Breaking barriers to accelerate energy transition

Our new special report looks at how energy and commodity markets are responding to the decarbonization challenge, from oil to marine fuels to battery metals and petrochemicals.

Atlas of Energy Transition™

Navigating a pathway to a low-carbon global economy requires a new plan. The S&P Global Platts Atlas of Energy Transition™, produced in collaboration with S&P Global Market Intelligence, is your map to the sustainable commodity markets of the future.

Pressure builds on oil, gas funding as HSBC rolls out net-zero lending targets

HSBC laid out plans Feb. 22 to cut its lending to oil and gas clients based on their carbon emissions as the UK bank looks to align its loan portfolio with the International Energy Agency's landmark scenario for hitting net-zero by 2050.

Financial Sector Case Studies

By working closely with our customers for more than a century, S&P Global Platts has become one of the most respected sources of relevant, independent pricing information, insights and analysis in the global energy and commodity markets. Download the brochure and see examples of our work with financial institutions around the world.

Watch: The Role of Energy Markets in Investor Commitments to Decarbonization

Lauren Smart, Managing Director and Global Head of ESG Commercial for S&P Global Platts Market Intelligence sat down with Gordon Bennett, Managing Director of Utility Markets at the Intercontinental Exchange to talk about ESG the energy transition, hedging, decarbonization, and much more.

Understanding Voluntary Carbon Markets

Trade in voluntary carbon credits is rising as companies look to offset their emissions. Silvia Favasuli and Vandana Sebastian explain how the market works, key players and pricing principles.

Singapore announces larger-than-expected carbon tax to fund long-term decarbonization

Singapore will raise its carbon tax to S$25/mt ($18.60) of CO2 equivalent in 2024 and 2025, from S$5/mtCO2e ($3.7), to finance its decarbonization efforts, create a regional carbon marketplace and bring forward its net zero emissions deadline, the government said Feb. 18.