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Increasing Urals exports from northern ports, coupled with falling North Sea crude output, are likely to prompt refiners in northwest Europe to buy more of the sour Russian grade.
Urals exports from Baltic and Arctic ports are set to reach 1.75mn b/d this year--more than 1 inn b/d up on 2002--as a result of Russian pipeline firm Transneft's decision to focus export growth on Primorsk. In November, northern exports overtook those from the Black Sea for the first time. But this was reversed in December, when there were fewer winter-related closures at outlets on the Black Sea.
In 2004, exports from northern ports are likely to outstrip those from the Black Sea, …