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Russia Replaces Saudi Arabia as India’s Second-Biggest Oil Supplier: Trade Data

© AFP 2023 / SAM PANTHAKYWorkers at an Indian oil refinery belonging to Essar Oil at Vadinar, some 380km from Ahmedabad. (File)
Workers at an Indian oil refinery belonging to Essar Oil at Vadinar, some 380km from Ahmedabad. (File)  - Sputnik International, 1920, 13.06.2022
India purchased over 60 million barrels of Russian grades this year, compared with only 12 million barrels in 2021. The Indian Foreign Ministry declined having a role in increasing the purchases from Russia and suggested that it is refiners’ prerogative based on the best available deals on the market.
Russia became the second-biggest oil supplier to the world’s third-biggest oil consumer, India, as Indian refiners accumulated about 16.5 percent Russian grades in May compared to only six percent in April, tanker tracking data studied by Reuters showed.
Indian refiners imported about 819,000 barrels per day, or around 25 million barrels, from Russia in May, a threefold increase from 277,000 barrels per day in April. May's import is also the highest monthly purchase by India from Russia ever, recorded against the backdrop of the “best deal” Indian refiners got from Russian oil producers.
According to a report published by Finland-based independent organisation Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air on Tuesday, India bought oil worth $3.54 billion from Russia between 24 February and 3 June.
Saudi Arabia, which usually supplies around 17 percent of the monthly oil requirement of India, used to be New Delhi's second biggest oil supplier; however, Indian refiners cut their oil purchases in May due to a rise in prices by Saudi Aramco, the world's top oil exporter, for all regions, including Asian buyers.
Still, Iraq remains India’s top oil exporter.
The price of Brent crude averaged $121 per barrel for India in the first week of June, resulting in a fall in oil purchases from the Middle East to 59.7 percent from 71 percent in April.
Indian Oil Ministry data suggested that the Indian basket crude price averaged $102.97/bbl during April 2022, against $112.87/bbl in March 2022, and $63.40 /bbl during April 2021.
Russia’s share of India’s oil purchase was only three percent in March, and it was positioned at 10th, far behind Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the US, and Kuwait.
India’s Foreign Ministry has repeatedly underscored that refiners make purchases based on their business interests, and the government does not direct them to turn to Russian oil producers.
Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, India’s foreign minister, has rejected the West’s criticism over India’s imports of Russian oil, saying New Delhi is also taking care of its energy security, as high commodity prices impact the people’s welfare.

“If India funding Russian oil is funding the war … tell me, then buying Russian gas is not funding the war? Let’s be a little even-handed”, Jaishankar said at a recent forum in Slovakia, referring to Europe’s imports of Russian gas.

The US and its European allies have been engaged with New Delhi for weeks, asking it not to increase Russian oil purchases.
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