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India relies on Russian oil

Индия разчита на руски петрол

Russia remained India's largest oil supplier in December, accounting for nearly a third of the country's crude oil imports, according to commerce ministry data.

At $3.92 billion, the value of crude oil shipments from Russia increased 25% year-on-year. Sequentially, that country's crude oil imports rose 8 percent from $3.61 billion in November last year, the data showed.

Moscow was India's largest supplier of crude oil in 2023, accounting for more than 30% of its imports, and is likely to remain so until early 2024 despite the Red Sea crisis, according to a report by S&P Global Commodity Insights from January.

This is significant because although Russian oil initially remained unaffected by the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, the situation has changed with recent reports of Russian oil cargoes being attacked. This forced ships to take different routes, via the Cape of Good Hope, and merchants to recalculate costs.

Meanwhile, the increase in oil supplies from Russia coincided with an annual decline in imports from traditional suppliers in the Persian Gulf region. Iraq was India's second-largest source of crude oil in December, supplying $2.42 billion worth of the crude, down 4% year-on-year.

Shipments from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were down 24.84% and 3.01% to $1.91 billion and $973.85 million, respectively. The US was the fifth largest supplier in December with $413.61 million worth of oil coming from the country. Imports from the US decreased by 79.87% year-on-year.

Before the Ukraine conflict, in the 2021-22 fiscal year, Russian oil accounted for just 2% of India's total oil imports, with Iraq being the largest supplier, followed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

However, after the start of the war, Russia rose to the top, driven by significant discounts in oil prices. Despite the reduction of these discounts of more than $30 a barrel, Russian oil supplies from India have continued, even amid Western concerns.

India's total oil import expenditure in December fell 24% year-on-year to $11.57 billion amid a drop in crude oil prices.

In the April-December period, India's crude oil import spending fell 17% year-on-year to $122.48 billion. But imports from Russia increased by 68.19% during the same period to $34.44 billion.

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