Tensions are growing over the potential for a new military escalation between Russia and Ukraine which could threaten vast flows of commodities and energy.
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The standoff raises concerns that Western countries may tighten existing sanctions against Russia which were introduced in response to the Kremlin's 2014 annexation of Crimea.
"An escalation in eastern Ukraine would raise the odds of penalties targeting Russia's energy sector," Paul Sheldon, chief geopolitical adviser for S&P Global Platts Analytics, said.
The following are key facts on the potential impact of a major escalation for commodity sectors:
**Ukraine is a major transit route for Russian gas to Europe, with 56 Bcm sent via the Ukrainian network to Europe in 2020 -- accounting for around 14% of EU gas demand. However, flows are much lower than in the 2000s and 2010s, with the most recent peak for Russian gas transit coming in 2017 at 94 Bcm.
**Russia as a whole produced 692 Bcm of gas in 2020, while Gazprom's international sales totaled 210 Bcm, making it the world's biggest gas exporter. Gazprom relies on Ukrainian transit for around 25% of its export volumes.
**Ukraine produced 20.2 Bcm of gas in 2020. It halted direct imports of gas from Russia in November 2015, and relies on imports from the EU to meet total domestic demand.
**Ukraine moves Russian oil to Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic with the country's transit of Russian crude for export to the European Union at 12.3 million mt in 2020, down from 13.13 million mt shipped in 2019.
**Last year, crude shipments via the Southern branch of the Druzhba pipeline network included 5.4 million mt, or around 108,147 b/d to Slovakia, 3.8 million mt, or around 76,104 b/d to Hungary, and 3 million mt, or around 60,081 b/d to the Czech Republic.
**Ukraine produces a little under 50,000 b/d of liquids and most of Ukraine's own crude imports are sourced from Azerbaijan, accounting for about 90% of the country's imports
Ukraine is one of the world's largest exporters of grains and any disruption to supplies would potentially impact food security and prices.
**Ukraine accounts for around 13% of global corn exports, being the world's fourth-largest exporter and by far the largest exporter in Europe. Around half of its exports go to the European Union, with China another major importer. Much of these exports are used for animal feed, with biofuels also likely to take a significant share.
**Kiev accounts for just under a tenth of global wheat exports. Ukrainian wheat shipments have soared in the last ten years from around 4mn mt in 2010 to around 17.5 in 2020.
**There has been no obvious impact on global oil prices or European gas prices as yet from the escalation so far.
**The escalation comes after Ukrainian corn export prices hit a seven-year high, supported by strong global demand and Russian plans to impose export duties on grains. FOB Black Sea corn export prices have been trading around $256/mt after hitting $264/mt in mid-January.
**If there are disruptions to raw materials and steel being shipped from ports in the Sea of Azov, additional costs are expected for railway transit to Odessa, Nikolaev, Yuzhny, and Chornomorsk.
**Ukraine has the capacity to transit around 140 Bcm/year of Russian gas to Europe, but actual levels have been considerably lower in recent years after Russia launched the bypass pipelines Nord Stream in 2011 and TurkStream in 2020.
**Gazprom has booked just 40 Bcm/year of capacity via Ukraine to 2024 and must buy additional capacity from Ukraine's grid operator GTSOU on a short-term basis if there is extra demand from European buyers for Russian gas.
**Ukraine ships Russian oil to Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic via the southern leg of the key 25 million mt/year Druzhba pipeline.
Russia could close off Ukrainian ports due to its control of Crimea and Black Sea chokepoints.
**The Kerch Strait connects the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov and is used both ways, to supply soft commodities, ship steel/pig iron and other raw materials from Mariupo.
**Russia's Azov and Rostov ports serve as both transshipment ports to load deep water vessels at the Russian port of Kavkaz and as loading points to make small parcel shipments of wheat, barley and corn to destinations in the east Mediterranean.
**Exports of both corn and wheat take place through a number of Ukrainian seaports including the southwestern Panamax-capable ports of Odessa, Pivdennyi and Chornomorsk, all of which are well away from the front line. However, they are all within easy reach of Crimea, which is currently under Russian occupation.
**Mariupol, Ukraine's main port in the Sea of Azov, is vital for pig iron and steel export from Ukraine and imports of steelmaking raw materials, particularly coking coal. In recent years, steel shipments from Mariupol have represented about a quarter of Ukraine's total exports in value terms.
**Any limitation of vessels through the Kerch Strait would likely affect supply routes used by Metinvest, Ukraine mining and steel group, and other bulk shipping on the route.