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Russia remains biggest oil supplier to India for second month in a row

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For the second month in a row, Russia remained India’s top oil supplier in November, according to data from energy cargo tracker Vortexa. The imports in November were made ahead of a price cap agreed by the EU on Russian seaborne oil.

A Russian state flag flies on the top of a diesel plant in the Yarakta Oil Field, owned by Irkutsk Oil Company (INK), in Irkutsk Region (Photo: Reuters/File)

By Press Trust of India: Russia has for the second month in a row remained India’s top oil supplier in November, surpassing traditional sellers Iraq and Saudi Arabia, according to data from energy cargo tracker Vortexa.

Russia, which made up for just 0.2 per cent of all oil imported by India in the year to March 31, 2022, supplied 9,09,403 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil to India in November. It now makes up for more than a fifth of India’s oil supplies.

According to Vortexa, an energy intelligence firm, India imported 8,61,461 bpd of oil from Iraq in November and 5,70,922 bpd from Saudi Arabia. The United States was India’s fourth largest supplier at 4,05,525 bpd.

India’s imports from Russia in November were lower than the volumes bought in October. India’s appetite for Russian oil swelled ever since it started trading on discounts as the West shunned it to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.

As per Vortexa, India imported just 36,255 barrels per day of crude oil from Russia in December 2021, compared to 1.05 million bpd from Iraq and 9,52,625 bpd from Saudi Arabia.

There were no imports from Russia in the following two months, but they resumed in March, soon after the Ukraine war broke out in late February.

ALSO READ | No one asked India to stop buying Russian oil, says Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri

India imported 68,600 bpd of Russian oil in March, while it increased to 2,66,617 bpd in the following month and peaked at 9,42,694 bpd in June. But in June, Iraq was India’s top supplier with 1.04 million bpd of oil. Russia, in that month, became India’s second-biggest supplier.

Imports dipped marginally in the following two months. They stood at 8,76,396 bpd in September before rising to a record 9,35,556 bpd in October, according to Vortexa.

The Indian government has been vehemently defending its trade with Russia, saying it has to source oil from where it is the cheapest. The imports in November were made ahead of a price cap agreed by the EU on Russian seaborne oil.

But, the government has indicated that oil companies will continue to buy oil from Russia outside the price cap. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on December 7 told the Rajya Sabha that Indian refiners will continue to look for the best deals in the interest of the country.

“We do not ask our companies to buy Russian oil. We ask our companies to buy oil (based on) what is the best option that they can get. Now, it depends on what the market throws up,” he had said while replying to clarifications sought by MPs on his suo moto statement on foreign policy.

ALSO READ | India can buy as much Russian oil as it wants, says US. Terms and conditions apply

The companies will go after sources that are more competitive, Jaishankar added.

“Please do understand it’s not just we buy oil from one country. We buy oil from multiple sources, but it is a sensible policy to go where we get the best deal in the interests of the Indian people, and that is exactly what we are trying to do,” he said.

The executive body of the European Union has asked its 27 member countries to cap the price of Russian oil at USD 60 a barrel as part of the West’s attempt to squeeze Moscow’s oil revenues and limit its ability to wage war in Ukraine while keeping global prices and supplies steady.

From December 5, western shipping and insurance companies are prohibited from handling Russian oil sold above the price cap. However, ships loaded with Russian oil before December 5 and unloaded at their destination before January 19, will not be subject to the price cap.

A top government official said India can continue to buy Russian oil if it can send ships, cover insurance and devise a mode of payment.

ALSO READ | India set to skip buying Russia’s ESPO crude in September as freight costs jump



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