New Delhi: Russia has overtaken Saudi Arabia to become India’s second-biggest supplier of oil behind Iraq as refiners snap up Russian crude available at a deep discount following the war in Ukraine, industry data showed. Iraq remained the top supplier to India in May and Saudi Arabia is now the third biggest supplier.
After the US and China, India is the world’s third-largest consumer of oil, over 85% of which is imported. India has taken advantage of discounted prices to ramp up oil imports from Russia at a time when global energy prices have been rising. Russian-origin crude came up to 5% of India’s total seaborne imports in April for the first time, rising from under 1% throughout 2021 and Q1 2022, the data showed. Indian refiners bought about 25 million barrels of Russian oil in May or over 16% of all their oil imports.
India, the world’s third-biggest oil-importing and consuming nation, has long defended purchases of crude oil from Russia following President Vladimir Putin ordering the invasion of Ukraine. The Oil Ministry had last month stated that ‘energy purchases from Russia remain minuscule in comparison to India’s total consumption’. Following its invasion of Ukraine, there are now fewer buyers for Russia’s Ural crude oil, with some foreign governments and companies deciding to shun Russian energy exports, and its price has fallen. Indian refiners have taken advantage of this and bought Russian crude oil at discount as high as USD 30 per barrel. Earlier, the crude was disadvantageous because of the high freight cost.