Purchases of sanctions-hit crude in December saw a nearly 30% surge month-on-month
India’s purchases of Russian crude oil increased year-over-year by a factor of 33, marking an all-time high in December, Bloomberg reported on Monday, citing data from Vortexa.
The world’s third-biggest importer of crude bought an average of 1.2 million barrels per day from Russia last month, 29% more than in November, according to the data. Russia has reportedly become India’s biggest fuel supplier, having outpaced Iraq and Saudi Arabia several months ago.
Indian refiners have increasingly favored imports of Russian oil at steep discounts since the beginning of last year, after many Western buyers shunned the shipments amid escalating sanctions. The latest round of sanctions agreed by the G7, EU and allies included a $60-a-barrel price cap on Russian sea-borne oil and led to a sharp increase in Indian imports.
“Russia has likely offered its crude at an attractive discount to Indian refiners, which have surpassed China as the largest importer of Russian crude,” Serena Huang, lead Asia analyst at Vortexa told Bloomberg, adding that India stepped up imports of other Russian grades like Arco, Sakhalin and Varandey apart from Urals in recent months.
India is highly vulnerable to price volatility, as over 85% of the country’s oil demand is covered through imports. The state-owned refiners have been boosting cheaper Russian imports after New Delhi prevented them from raising pump prices of diesel and gasoline in May.
India’s crude imports from Iraq and Saudi Arabia, its other major suppliers, also increased in December. Purchases from Iraq grew by 7% to nearly 886,000 barrels per day, while those from Saudi Arabia jumped by 12% to nearly 748,000 barrels per day.
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