By Jan Strupczewski
BRUSSELS, Dec 3 (Reuters) – All European Union governments completed on Saturday the written approval of a $60 per barrel price cap on Russian seaborne oil, the European Commission said, paving the way for its publication in the EU’s Official Journal and entry into force on Dec. 5.
The measure, an idea of the Group of Seven nations, comes on top of the EU’s embargo on imports of Russian seaborne crude that also kicks in on Dec. 5, and is meant to allow oil-related services to third countries only for those cargoes below the cap.
“The G7 and all EU Member States have taken a decision that will hit Russia’s revenues even harder and reduce its ability to wage war in Ukraine,” EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement.
“It will also help us to stabilise global energy prices, benefiting countries across the world who are currently confronted with high oil prices,” she said.
The price cap will prohibit G7 companies dealing with the insurance, re-insurance or financing of oil trade or to handle Russian crude oil cargoes to third countries unless the oil was sold at or below the $60 per barrel price cap.
Urals crude URL-E closed trade on Friday at $67.44.
From Monday, the EU itself will not be buying any Russian seaborne crude, which had made up 94% of all Russian crude imports by the 27-nation EU.
The bloc will also stop any imports of Russian petroleum products from Feb. 5. A G7 price cap on the petroleum products will also be set at a later date, using exactly the same mechanism as for crude oil, the Commission said.
From Monday, EU shipping companies will only be allowed to carry Russian crude if it is sold below or at the G7 price cap, which will be reviewed every two months, starting from mid-January, to keep it at least 5% below the market price.
Because the world’s key shipping and insurance firms are based in G7 countries, the price cap would make it very difficult for Moscow to sell its oil at a higher price.
Since the final details of the price cap are set so near to its implementation, cargoes of Russian crude loaded onto tankers before Dec. 5 will be exempt from the restrictions for 45 days, or until Jan. 19.
If the price cap changes after the regular review mechanism, there will be a 90-day grace period to ensure that no vessel is caught at sea carrying oil bought at a price that is not accepted.
The price cap review is an EU-specific mechanism that will require unanimity among the 27 countries that make up the bloc for any changes to the price level. Once a change is agreed by the EU, it will be then discussed at the G7 level, which includes also the United States, Canada, Britain and Japan.
(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski)