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Who’s Still Buying Russian Fossil Fuels in 2023?

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Bar chart of countries with the highest fossil fuel imports from Russia in 2023

The Countries Buying Fossil Fuels from Russia in 2023

While Russia’s revenues from fossil fuel exports have declined significantly since their peak in March of 2022, many countries are still importing millions of dollars a day worth of fossil fuels from Russia.

Revenue from fossil fuels exported to the EU has declined more than 90% from their peak, but in 2023 the bloc has still imported more than $18 billion of crude oil and natural gas so far.

This graphic uses data from the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) to visualize the top-importing countries of fossil fuels from Russia so far this year.

China Remains Russia’s Top Fossil Fuel Importer

China continues to be Russia’s top buyer of fossil fuels, with imports reaching $30 billion in 2023 up until June 16, 2023.

With nearly 80% of China’s fuel imports being crude oil, Russia’s average daily revenues from Chinese fossil fuel imports have declined from $210 million in 2022 to $178 million in 2023 largely due to the falling price of Russian crude oil.

Following China are EU nations collectively, which despite no longer importing coal from Russia since August of 2022, still imported $18.4 billion of fossil fuels in a 60/40 split of crude oil and natural gas respectively.

CountryRussian Fossil Fuel Imports* (Total)Crude OilNatural GasCoal
🇨🇳 China$30.0B$23.9B$2.7B$3.3B
🇪🇺 EU$18.4B$11.2B$7.2B$0
🇮🇳 India$15.2B$12.8B$0$2.5B
🇹🇷 Türkiye$12.1B$7.3B$3B$1.7B
🇦🇪 UAE$2.3B$2.3B$0$0
🇰🇷 South Korea$2.1B$0.6B$0.3B$1.2B
🇸🇰 Slovakia$2.0B$1.1B$0.9B$0
🇭🇺 Hungary$1.9B$0.8B$1.1B$0
🇧🇪 Belgium$1.9B$0.5B$1.4B$0
🇯🇵 Japan$1.8B$0$1.5B$0.3B
🇪🇸 Spain$1.7B$0.6B$1.1B$0
🇸🇬 Singapore$1.7B$1.7B$0$0
🇧🇷 Brazil$1.6B$1.4B$0$0.2B
🇳🇱 Netherlands$1.6B$1.5B$0.1B$0
🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia$1.5B$1.4B$0$0
🇪🇬 Egypt$1.4B$1.3B$0$0.2B
🇧🇬 Bulgaria$1.3B$1.1B$0.3B$0
🇮🇹 Italy$1.2B$0.8B$0.4B$0
🇲🇾 Malaysia$1.1B$1.0B$0$0.1B
🇨🇿 Czech Republic$1.0B$1.1B$0$0

*Over the time period of Jan 1, 2023 to June 16, 2023 in U.S. dollars

After China and the EU bloc, India is the next-largest importer of Russian fossil fuels, having ramped up the amount of fossil fuels imported by more than 10x since before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, largely due to discounted Russian oil.

Türkiye is the only other nation to have imported more than $10 billion worth of Russian fossil fuels in 2023, with every other country having imported fewer than $3 billion worth of fuels from Russia this year.

Navigating the Crude Reality of Oil Exports

Although crude oil is Russia’s chief fossil fuel export, the nation’s Urals crude traded at a $20 per barrel discount to Brent crude throughout most of 2023. While this discount has narrowed to around $16 following Russia’s announcement of further oil export cuts of 500,000 bpd (barrels per day), the price of Urals crude oil remains just 40 cents below the $60 price cap put in place by G7 and EU nations.

Alongside Russia, Saudi Arabia also announced it would extend its cut of 1 million bpd until the end of August, with Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman commenting on the country’s solidarity with Russia and saying it would do “whatever is necessary” to support the oil market.

While OPEC and OPEC+ nations’ cuts are an attempt at pushing crude oil prices up, increased production from the U.S. has counteracted this. The EIA forecasts 2023 U.S. production to be 12.6 million bpd, surpassing the high in 2019 of 12.3 million bpd.

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Energy Shift

Visualizing the Rise of the U.S. as Top Crude Oil Producer

Over the last decade, the U.S. has surpassed Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s top producer of crude oil.

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Line chart showing how the U.S. has surpassed Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world's top producer of crude oil.

Visualizing the Rise of the U.S. as Top Crude Oil Producer

Over the last decade, the United States has established itself as the world’s top producer of crude oil, surpassing Saudi Arabia and Russia.

This infographic illustrates the rise of the U.S. as the biggest oil producer, based on data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

U.S. Takes Lead in 2018

Over the last three decades, the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Russia have alternated as the top crude producers, but always by small margins.

During the 1990s, Saudi Arabia dominated crude production, taking advantage of its extensive oil reserves. The petroleum sector accounts for roughly 42% of the country’s GDP, 87% of its budget revenues, and 90% of export earnings.

However, during the 2000s, Russia surpassed Saudi Arabia in production during some years, following strategic investments in expanding its oil infrastructure. The majority of Russia’s oil goes to OECD Europe (60%), with around 20% going to China.

Crude Oil Production United StatesSaudi ArabiaRussia
199211.93%13.97%12.74%
199311.50%13.68%11.35%
199410.96%13.32%10.50%
199510.60%13.17%9.96%
199610.21%12.87%9.49%
19979.84%12.73%9.29%
19989.39%12.58%9.05%
19999.06%11.99%9.33%
20008.67%12.33%9.64%
20018.65%11.89%10.45%
20028.63%11.49%11.53%
20038.05%12.92%12.10%
20047.46%12.74%12.67%
20057.00%13.21%12.82%
20066.85%13.00%12.90%
20076.84%12.38%13.29%
20086.71%12.44%12.56%
20097.32%11.28%12.98%
20107.37%11.31%13.03%
20117.55%12.81%13.02%
20128.50%13.04%12.94%
20139.76%12.86%13.10%
201411.18%12.60%12.86%
201511.67%12.77%12.66%
201610.92%13.12%13.02%
201711.53%12.68%13.05%
201813.21%12.77%12.96%
201914.90%12.15%13.20%
202014.87%12.37%12.97%
202114.59%12.06%13.10%
202214.73%13.17%12.76%

Over the 2010s, the U.S. witnessed an increase in domestic production, much of it attributable to hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” in the shale formations ranging from Texas to North Dakota. It became the world’s largest oil producer in 2018, outproducing Russia and Saudi Arabia.

The U.S. accounted for 14.7% of crude oil production worldwide in 2022, compared to 13.1% for Saudi Arabia and 12.7% for Russia.

Despite leading petroleum production, the U.S. still trails seven countries in remaining proven reserves underground, with 55,251 million barrels.

Venezuela has the biggest reserves with 303,221 million barrels. Saudi Arabia, with 267,192 million barrels, occupies the second spot, while Russia is seventh with 80,000 million barrels.

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Energy Shift

Visualizing All the Nuclear Waste in the World

Despite concerns about nuclear waste, high-level radioactive waste constitutes less than 0.25% of all radioactive waste ever generated.

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Graphic cubes illustrating the global volume of nuclear waste and its disposal methods.

Visualizing All the Nuclear Waste in the World

Originally posted on the Decarbonization Channel. Subscribe to the free mailing list to be the first to receive decarbonization-related visualizations, with a focus on the U.S. power sector.

Nuclear power is among the safest and cleanest sources of electricity, making it a critical part of the clean energy transition.

However, nuclear waste, an inevitable byproduct, is often misunderstood.

In collaboration with the National Public Utilities Council, this graphic shows the volume of all existing nuclear waste, categorized by its level of hazardousness and disposal requirements, based on data from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Storage and Disposal

Nuclear provides about 10% of global electricity generation.

Nuclear waste, produced as a result of this, can be divided into four different types:

  • Very low-level waste: Waste suitable for near-surface landfills, requiring lower containment and isolation.
  • Low-level waste: Waste needing robust containment for up to a few hundred years, suitable for disposal in engineered near-surface facilities.
  • Intermediate-level waste: Waste that requires a greater degree of containment and isolation than that provided by near-surface disposal.
  • High-level waste: Waste is disposed of in deep, stable geological formations, typically several hundred meters below the surface.

Despite safety concerns, high-level radioactive waste constitutes less than 0.25% of total radioactive waste reported to the IAEA.

Waste ClassDisposed (cubic meters)Stored (cubic meters)Total (cubic meters)
Very low-level waste758,802313,8821,072,684
Low-level waste1,825,558204,8582,030,416
Intermediate level waste671,097201,893872,990
High-level waste3,9605,3239,283

Stored and disposed radioactive waste reported to the IAEA under the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management. Data is from the last reporting year which varies by reporting country, 2019-2023.

The amount of waste produced by the nuclear power industry is small compared to other industrial activities.

While flammable liquids comprise 82% of the hazardous materials shipped annually in the U.S., radioactive waste accounts for only 0.01%.

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