* Non-Russian sea-borne supply replacing Russian crude -data
* Norway, U.S. sending more
* Poland and Saudi deal seen boosting volumes
* Sea-borne volumes still a fraction of Russian piped
LONDON, May 17 (Reuters) - Sea-borne oil has thrown a
lifeline to refiners in eastern Germany and Poland, with
non-Russian deliveries into the Polish port of Gdansk hitting at
least seven-year highs this month as they switch away from
Imports booked for May into Gdansk from Egypt, the United
States, Norway, Britain and West Africa had hit 8.4 million
barrels by May 16, their highest level according to Refinitiv
Eikon ship tracking data that goes back to 2015.
At the same time, Russian crude booked for May into Gdansk
and the port of Rostock stood at 700,000 barrels, down from a
high of 12.9 million in May 2019, the data showed.
"Non-Russian sea-borne crude volumes towards Gdansk have
increased at the expense of Russian barrels," said Ioannis
Papadimitriou, senior freight analyst with oil analytics firm
The steep rise in such supply comes as Europe works toward
an outright ban on Russian oil.
Imports into Gdansk from Norway in April and from the United
States and via Egypt in May all hit highs, the Refinitiv data
Norwegian imports in April hit 2.2 million barrels, similar
to U.S. volumes booked for May while those booked via Egypt this
month have hit 5.7 million so far, the data showed.
"Poland is replacing Russian oil by Saudi crude oil
supply via the Egyptian port of Sidi Kerir," said Ehsan Ul-Haq,
senior oil analyst at Refinitiv.
"Crude imports from countries other than Russia are now at
the highest in history."
In January, Saudi Aramco agreed to buy a 30% stake
in Lotos, Poland's second largest refinery, and to
increase oil supplies to Poland's top energy firm PKN Orlen to
200,000-337,000 barrels per day (bpd), denting Russia's
dominance in the region.
This deal might buffer some of the higher freight costs for
oil shipped from the Middle East, Ul-Haq added.
Anders Opedal, chief executive of Norwegian energy firm
Equinor, told Reuters that all crude from Norway's
Johan Sverdrup oilfield, the largest in Western Europe, is now
going to Europe, while a year ago about 60% of it went to Asia.
Imports from the British North Sea have not increased
markedly since war began in Ukraine in February but they have
become more regular since late 2021.
LARGER PIPED SUPPLY
Germany's government has hailed imports into the two Baltic
Sea ports of Gdansk and Rostock as promising alternatives to
Russian oil though the volumes still stand at a fraction of the
capacity of Russia's Druzhba Pipeline, which in February
delivered about 22.4 million barrels.
Rostock has yet to come into play, however, with the only
crude oil discharged there since June 2019 delivered last month
from Russia. Since early 2015, there have only been nine crude
cargoes in Rostock, four of which from Russia.
"Exports towards Rostock since March remain at zero with the
region struggling to diversify from Russian barrels," Vortexa's
Gdansk oil refinery's capacity is 210,000 bpd, second to
Polish state oil refinery Plock, with about 270,000 bpd. In
eastern Germany, Druzhba supplies 233,000 bpd to the Schwedt
refinery and the 240,000 bpd Leuna refinery.
(Reporting by Shadia Nasralla, additional reporting by Nerijus
Adomaitis in Oslo; editing by Jason Neely)