Iran’s oil minister Javad Owji told reporters Wednesday it would take Russia time to find new markets to replace possible losses in exports to Europe or north America.

Before the Ukraine invasion, Russia sold about half of its 7.85 million barrels a day (bpd) of exported crude and refined oil to Europe, but discussions with the European Union (EU) of a ban on Russian oil – following bans introduced by Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States – had led to speculation that Russia would look for new markets in Asia, where China and India continue to buy Russian crude offered at discount.

According to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal, Iran’s oil exports, going mainly to China, rose to 870,000 bpd in the first three months of 2020, up around 30 percent from an average 668,000 bpd in full-year 2021.

This prompted questions to Owji from reporters as to whether Russia might displace Iran, especially by undercutting on price – to which the minister offered reassurance.

While the Group of Seven (G7) nations, including Japan, have agreed to phase out Russian oil imports, the EU has been unable to follow suit, mainly due to opposition from member states dependent on Russian supplies, such as Hungary. Eurostat figures show Russian earnings from oil exports to Europe at a higher level in 2022 than in 2021.

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