Russian oil remains top choice for major Asian economies

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Russia remained the largest exporter of oil to India and China in June, data from the latest Oil Market Report by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) showed on Thursday.

According to OPEC’s calculations, Russia accounted for almost 20% of China’s total oil imports in the reporting period, retaining the title of the Asian country’s largest crude supplier for six consecutive months. Saudi Arabia, the second-largest supplier, accounted for 15% of China’s total imports, while Malaysia provided around 11%.

According to customs data, China’s imports of Russian crude in June reached an all-time high, with flows hitting 10.5 million tons, up more than 40% compared to the same month last year.

Overall, China’s oil imports increased by 5% compared to May and amounted to 12.7 million barrels per day (bpd).

Russia also accounted for 45% of India’s crude imports in June, making it the country’s top supplier for the past year. Iraq accounted for about 17% of supplies, while Saudi Arabia’s share was 16%. India’s total oil imports in the reporting period decreased by 3% compared to May, falling to 4.7 million bpd.

According to data earlier released by the Indian Ministry of Industry and Trade, in the first five months of the year, Russian oil exports to India skyrocketed to 37 million tons, more than during the whole of 2022.

Both India and China have been snapping up Russian oil at hefty discounts introduced by Moscow last year. This was done in an effort to expand to new markets after Russia lost its traditional Western buyers due to Ukraine-related sanctions. Following last year’s G7 embargo and price cap on Russian oil, Moscow has been actively redirecting its oil flows to Asia.

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