Russia started exporting fuel to Iran by rail earlier this year, after traditional buyers stopped importing Russian oil, Reuters reported.

The two countries are now rapidly expanding their trade and energy ties amid Western sanctions. Russia is facing sanctions in response to its ongoing conflict with Ukraine, while Iran has been subject to sanctions for years.  

Iran has seen fuel shortage as consumption has surpassed domestic production in recent times.

Russian oil supplies to Iran were announced last year, but the actual shipments started this year.

According to the news agency’s sources, Russia already supplied up to 30,000 tonnes of diesel and petrol to Iran between February and March this year. The oil is being exported through a rail link from Russia, via Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

In the past, Russia supplied oil to Iran by tanker through the Caspian Sea, but high freight costs and a price cap imposed by G7 nations on Russian seaborne crude have left the country no choice but to resort to rail transport for oil exports.

However, shipping by rail is fraught with congestion problems along the route.

Reuters quoted a source saying: “We expect fuel supplies to Iran to rise this year, but we already see several issues with logistics due to rail congestion. That may keep exports from booming.”

A source told the news agency that some of the gasoline volumes were further exported by truck from Iran to its neighbouring states such as Iraq.