Read this before buying crude oil + related products in/from Russia
I would like to post a short manual with my comments on who is who on the market, the prices and some government regulations. All this stuff is my experience, boozed, broozed & brokenboned.
First step. Let me introduce the players:
Salym Petroleum Development
and a some others, that would never ever issue any letter of any form.
Most of the time if you are buying crude oil, natural gas, diesel or jet fuel - you contact these guys. If by any chance you find yourself holding a proposal issued by one of these companies - it's a scam. These companies do not need your services. I will say it again, this companies do not need your services.
If by any chance you deal with Rosneft, then it won't be Rosneft, they'd give you a small LLC with a very obscure name like Promgvozdsnab. If the officials you are dealing with are saying that this is a straight contract, then you can easily walk away.
Same applies for Gazprom, but with a few differences. All the sales are delegated to Gazpromneft. The CEO of Gazpromneft is Alexander Dukov. If you don't know Dukov personally then you won't get a ton of whatever you are buying/selling. You might be approached by the staff of Gazpromneft with a helping hand for some extra dollar, but they never succeed.
Bashneft has a few companies that resell their stuff. Most of the time the arrangements for contracts have been done a year or two before you get the actual product. The capabilities are not so huge in Ufa, so you'd get 100 000 tons of diesel per month if you are lucky, but you're not.
Lukoil does not sell their shit under the name Lukoil. The have a premium reseller call Lukoilrezervnefteproduct. The prices are very high, but most of the time you don't have any other option.
Tatneft is a good company, but their production is way below the average. Chances they'd sell you something are always 0%.
TNK-BP won't sell you a ton. Don't ask.
Surgutneftegaz is a great company. They might provide you with huge volumes of rebco crude oil via pipeline, but the certain arrangements must be made way before you start the talking. Yet again they'd give you a small LLC to deal with. There are a lot of proposals floating around the internet, but all these documents are scam, because Surgutneftegaz won't issue nothing.
ARVA Energetika is my personal favorite. This is a rather small oil company. They don't refine, they don't sell diesel or jet fuel, they don't sell crude oil via Transneft pipeline. If you buy oil from these guys then you get it right on their oilfields - all the logistics are up to you, but you always get a good product and it looks like a purchase in your local 7/11. If you nag their managers to death then they can buy diesel or rebco from Gazprom and resell it to you using their domestic trade companies like Neftegazcapital.
Russneft. Forget about these guys, they DON'T sell their stuff.
Novatek is a huge company, their business is LNG, they don't sell diesel or jet fuel, but sure thing they buy it to resell. I've seen a few LOIs from these guys around the web. Novatek won't issue LOI. These guys go straight to Gazpromneft and buy their stock.
Kazmunaigas is one of the biggest oil&gas companies in Kazakhstan. They do a lot of exploration near the border of Russia, mainly on Chinarevskoe group of oilfields. They won't sell you a ton if you represent chinese clients or russian clients. In fact, they just won't.
Itera is a large oil company. They do sell crude oil, you can contact their office, make an appointment and start working right away. You'll be provided with all the legal tools you need to buy from their stock. Very simple, but always crowded, because there is never enough oil for every player on the market.
Salym Petroleum Development is not a very new name, but rarely used to scam people. It's a very good and a sound company, but chances you'd ever bumb into them are 0%.
There are some other companies but I won't comment on their performance because I never worked with them. All the things that I've mentioned is my personal opinion based on my experience.
Second step. If somehow you got your hands on some diesel then you need to buy it. If you are dealing with any company I've mentioned then it's a 100% advance payment. You'd better lawyer up and work on the logistics because the payment is only 10% of the whole thing. You need your stuff to be delivered to a port. You must have a few signed agreements with Transneft, a few guys from the government on the paycheck for things to work smoothly and a full bag of luck, because everything can get very ugly right from the first day.
If you are not planning to export the product then you face the difficulties of finding a buyer inside the country. Not that easy to do, because there are a lot of scoundrels waiting to get their pockets stuffed with cash. You would need a middle man who knows people who know other people. Usually it's a dead end if you are not well-connected. Even if you have a few solid guys here and there they still can f#%k this all up.
Step three. Know your enemy! If you found yourself with a contract, with a buyer and you are all stocked up with the logistics, politicians, private army and all the crap you needed to finish this - you still can get f#$ked. Been there too. One day a guy walks into your office and informs you that your contracts are null and void, you're done. This guy was an ex-KGB officer, a hero here and there, so anytime when hero needs some spare cash the government gives their dog a bone. But what if there are no bones left? Right, they take the bone from the guy that won't present any threat. Forget about courts, lawyers, gangsters that protect you, ex-KGB officers that work for you - you are done. It's like playing an online Warcraft II battle when your opponent uses all the cheats he knows.
Step four. Details. If somebody thinks that oil trade in Russia is all about caviar, champagne and chicks for free - he is right. After you somehow make it, then you should look like a billionaire. You buy yourself a german car with huge engine, get yourself an ex-model with all the required body modifications and start hustling like Rick Ross of 50 Cent. If you think that it's funny then you're damn wrong, it's not. Truth to be told, it's a very hard business, you don't sleep 6 days a week, one hand on the phone and the other on Makarov. Sometimes you are being approached by guys that want to help you here and there, but you should always work with guys you know or you're going down. If you are an oil trader you must be ready for government regulations, like the sales veto on the internal market and that could last for months, so you need to stock up on some cash because no one really knows when you get yourself a new contract. If you want to save some cash then you'd better start working with resellers because they always have some stock. For example an ARVA controlled Neftegazcapital can always sell you few thousand tons of crude oil or diesel. TN-07 is always on a contract with Yanos, so you are 100% guarantee to get something from them. It's been almost two years since the Transneft pipeline stopped working for the internal market, but if you are contracted with Transneft you might get lucky and buy some of their stock. There are a lot of small details here and there, but the main point is to forget about any kind the documents that are posted on this forum, they don't work.
Step five. Know your contracts. If you are so delusional that somebody would actually give you a discount, then you've got problems. The product is a rare thing, so it costs like a rare thing. No one from the list above would ever contact you with their proposals. It doesn't work that way. All the huge export deals are being negotiated in Kremlin with government officials. If somebody tells you that he has been there already then it's a scam, because if he'd been there there is no reason to contact you, the guy already has all the right contacts. If somebody is planning a big deal then he has three backup plans to cover his ass if something goes wrong.
Remember, always work with sound companies and trusted people that you personally know.
Last edited by Templar; 03-06-2012 at 02:32 PM.
Reason: Additional info
I sell crude oil and diesel in Russia on a daily basis. Always pleased to help with an advice. Notice: I don't trade and I don't represent any company on this board.