Oil product tankers sail along Nakhodka Bay near the port city of Nakhodka
Oil product tankers sail along Nakhodka Bay near the port city of Nakhodka, Russia August 12, 2022. Reuters

Singapore's imports of Russian naphtha nearly tripled in the first quarter of 2023, government data showed, after the European Union banned oil products imports from Russia.

The Asia oil hub imported 741,000 tonnes of Russian naphtha in the period, accounting for about 23% of Singapore's total imports of the refined product, a Reuters calculation based on Enterprise Singapore data showed.

This jumped from about 261,000 tonnes imported in the fourth quarter last year, the data showed.

The EU banned imports of Russian oil products from Feb. 5 and the Group of Seven Nations, EU and Australia imposed a $45 cap on Russian naphtha trade using western ships and insurance.

The limitations, which have changed global oil trade flows, are aimed at curbing Moscow's revenues, while allowing Russian supplies to stay in the market and keep world oil prices low.

GRAPHIC - Singapore's trade of Russian naphtha

Singapore's total exports of naphtha, which can be used in gasoline blending and is also a key ingredient in products such as plastics and paints, have risen to 946,000 tonnes in the first quarter this year, up 26% from the fourth-quarter 2022.

The key buyers of naphtha from Singapore are South Korea, China, Taiwan and Japan, the data showed.

Singapore is not a participant of the EU ban but an official said in February that companies in the country will have to consider and manage any potential impact on their business activities, transactions and customer relationships when dealing with Russian crude oil and refined products.

Russia, on the other hand, has managed to find alternative buyers for its naphtha, with shipments to Brazil, Tunisia and commercial hubs in the Middle East swelling to record levels in 2022, a shift that traders and analysts expect to continue.