In the Thick of It

A blog on the U.S.-Russia relationship

By the Numbers: Where Do Russia’s Energy Exports Go?

March 25, 2022
RM Staff

Russia’s war in Ukraine and its fallout have driven up energy prices worldwide, making countries from Europe to Asia scramble to adapt. Fresh data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) show which nations import the most Russian oil, gas and coal.


Among individual countries, China was the top destination for Russian crude oil and condensate exports in 2021, receiving nearly 30% of the total. Second and third place went to the Netherlands and Germany, accounting for 13% and 10%, respectively. Together, the two received nearly half of Russian crude oil and condensate exported to Europe last year. Just over 4% of Russia’s oil exports went to the United States. Earlier this month, however, Washington banned imports of Russian oil and gas into the U.S, trying to deprive Moscow of revenue after its invasion of Ukraine; the move was matched by a U.K. phase-out of Russian oil imports, but the EU did not follow suit.


Nearly three-quarters of Russia’s natural gas exports flowed to OECD Europe last year, making up as much as 40% of the region’s natural gas supplies. Europe’s energy dependency on Russia has prompted much debate and soul-searching in the wake of Moscow’s attack on Ukraine. On March 8, the EU published a plan to cut Russian gas imports by two-thirds this year and to completely wean itself off Russian gas “well before 2030.” But in 2021 almost one-fifth of Russia’s total gas exports (19%) went to Germany alone, making it the top individual recipient for the year. Next were Turkey at 11% and Italy at 10%. Only 6% of Russian gas exports went to China, and 8% to Belarus.


For coal, China—which is both the largest importer and the largest producer of coal in the world—was again the top destination of Russian exports in 2021, receiving nearly a quarter of the total (24%). The rest of Asia/Oceania got about 29%, with the biggest customer after China being South Korea (9%). As war rages in Ukraine, Russia’s coal exports to Asia fell to 1.8 million tons in the first two weeks of March compared to 62 million tons in February, according to data cited by the Financial Times, but many analysts expect them to rebound strongly in coming months. OECD Europe was the destination for about 32% of Russian coal exports last year, with Germany again ranking as the top destination (8.5%). Additionally, about 5.5% of Russian coal exports in 2021 went to Ukraine.

Photo by James Offer shared under a Creative Commons license.