India's crude oil imports from Russia have jumped over 50 times since April and now make up for 10 per cent of all crude bought from overseas, a senior government official said on Thursday. Russian oil made up for just 0.2 per cent of all oil imported by India prior to the Ukraine war.
"Russia oil now makes up 10 per cent of India's oil import basket in April. It is now among the top 10 suppliers," the official told reporters here. As much as 40 per cent of the Russian oil has been bought by private refiners – Reliance Industries and Rosneft-backed Nayara Energy.
Last month, Russia overtook Saudi Arabia to become India's second-biggest supplier of oil behind Iraq as refiners snapped up Russian crude available at a deep discount following the war in Ukraine. Indian refiners bought about 25 million barrels of Russian oil in May.
Russian-origin crude accounted for 10 per cent of India's total seaborne imports in April for the first time, rising from 0.2 per cent throughout 2021 and Q1 2022. 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." Iraq remained the top supplier to India in May and Saudi Arabia is now the third biggest supplier.
India has taken advantage of discounted prices to ramp up oil imports from Russia at a time when global energy prices have been rising. After the US and China, India is the world's third-largest consumer of oil, over 85 per cent of which is imported.
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.