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NEW DELHI: Dubai-based trader Coral Energy said it is looking at expanding its business in Asia where energy demand is set to rise, and has stopped dealing in Russian crude oil since western sanctions were imposed on some Moscow entities in July.

The trading house emerged as one of the key suppliers of Russian crudes to Asia after some western entities shunned purchase of Russian oil following its invasion of Ukraine in late February.

“We supplied Russian crude oil cargoes until it was legitimate to do so but once sanctions were imposed on Russian entities, we stopped dealing in Russian oil,” the trading firm said in an emailed response to Reuters’ queries on Wednesday.

Coral is still dealing in some refined products because of its binding contracts with some Russian entities, it said, adding these contracts are valid till the end of this year.

European Union sanctions on Russian crude and oil products will take effect from Dec. 5 and Feb. 5, respectively.

Coral, which started operations in 2010 as petroleum product trader, has evolved into a global firm and dealing in fertilisers and soft commodities as well. Coral has been active in Asian markets since 2018 but volumes were not substantial.

Its business grew substantially in last two years as it filled the void caused by exit of some trading firms that could not withstand COVID-induced demand destruction in 2020 and its financial implication.

“To grow and expand towards Asia, that’s what we have been doing for the last two years… we are actually heading towards Asian and African market,” the company said.

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Last year, Asia accounted for about a fifth of its trading business and this year the size could rise to 27%, Coral said. “Plan is to grow it further.”

The company in 2020 had a term contract to buy diesel from Nayara Energy, partly owned by Russian oil major Rosneft. Its exposure to India has significantly increased since then and it still buys some refined products from Nayara.

“For Asian markets you really need to come up with substantial volumes to satisfy the needs of Asia.”

The trading firm has leased a 150,000 tonne storage facility in Fujairah and may plan to increase the capacity if required, it said.

Coral Energy has become the leading fuel oil supplier to Pakistan after winning a slew of import tenders.

It is looking at enhancing its presence in India, which could include opening a new office either alone or in partnership, it said, besides increasing its staff strength in and China.

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