4th Feb 2023

EU: 'We'll see' if Moscow actually stops selling oil over price-cap

  • The level of the $60/barrel price cap can be changed by Western states at any time (Photo: ezioman)
Listen to article

The EU Commission has downplayed Russia's threat to stop selling oil to countries which adopt a Western cap on prices.

"Indeed, we've seen Russia has said that it won't accept this [the price-cap]. Well, we'll see," commission spokesman Eric Mamer said in Brussels on Monday (5 December).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"I don't follow word-for-word every statement every day by Russian authorities. We know they're prone to making lots and lots of different comments," he added, in a poke at Russia's track record of disinformation.

He spoke 12 hours after Australia, Canada, the EU, Japan, the UK, and the US forbid their firms to ship or insure Russian oil bought for more than $60/barrel [€57], in an effort to curb its war budget.

Most EU countries also stopped buying Russian oil altogether at midnight, in a separate embargo designed for the same reason.

Moscow warned on Sunday it would cut off anybody who respected the Western oil cap.

"We will only sell oil and oil products to the countries that will work with us on market terms, even if we have to reduce output to some extent," Russian energy minister Alexander Novak said.

The price cap would "completely destabilise" world oil markets, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also said on Monday.

"Russia and the Russian economy have the required capacity to fully meet the needs and requirements of the special military operation [invasion of Ukraine]," Peskov added.

And Moscow has quietly built up a fleet of some 100 oil tankers to help its clients bypass Western sanctions, the FT reported this weekend.

Most EU countries have also been preparing for the Russia oil-purchase embargo.

But Bulgaria and Hungary have derogations to keep buying Russian oil via pipelines, putting them at risk of any new Kremlin retaliatory measures.

The EU Commission was currently in talks with Bulgaria over Sofia's plan to extend its Russia oil-buying grace period, it noted on Monday.

Other teething problems with the new sanctions included lack of clarity on re-export of Russian oil products from EU states.

The commission defended the price-cap, with Mamer saying: "It's about making sure oil can flow to third countries, but at prices that will significantly limit Russia's revenue".

Oil prices jumped on Monday amid uncertainty on future supplies, in what Mamer described as a "very liquid market".

But it was "too early" to say if the price cap was having the intended the effect of if there were technical problems with its implementation.

"There is a possibility to review the cap at regular intervals, or in between, if necessary," he said.


Serbia now has no choice but to join EU sanctions on Russia

Vladimir Putin himself is somewhat suspicious of Serbia's leader, as are most who deal with the opaque Aleksandar Vucic. The Russian president has preferred to keep his Serbian counterpart compliant, via a tight rein of annually-reviewed gas pricing.


Europe is giving more aid to Ukraine than you think

'Europeans need to pull their weight in Ukraine. They should pony up more funds.' Such has been the chorus since the start of the war. The problem is the argument isn't borne out by the facts, at least not anymore.


Democracy — is it in crisis or renaissance?

Countries that were once democratising are now moving in the other direction — think of Turkey, Myanmar, Hungary or Tunisia. On the other hand, in autocracies mass mobilisation rarely succeeds in changing political institutions. Think of Belarus, Iran or Algeria.

Latest News

  1. Greece faces possible court over 'prison-like' EU-funded migration centres
  2. How the centre-right can take on hard-right and win big in 2024
  3. Top EU officials show Ukraine solidarity on risky trip
  4. MEPs launch anonymous drop-box for shady lobbying secrets
  5. Hawkish ECB rate-rise 'puts energy transition at risk'
  6. MEPs push for greater powers for workers' councils
  7. How Pavel won big as new Czech president — and why it matters
  8. French official to take on Islamophobia in EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Party of the European LeftJOB ALERT - Seeking a Communications Manager (FT) for our Brussels office!
  2. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  3. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains
  4. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  5. EFBWWCouncil issues disappointing position ignoring the threats posed by asbestos
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us