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India Shies Away From Contracted Russian Oil Supply Amid Stricter U.S. Sanctions

The largest state-owned refiners in India have become increasingly cautious about committing to contracted supplies of Russian crude, wary of potentially running afoul of the stricter enforcement of the U.S. sanctions on Russian oil exports, multiple sources with knowledge of the matter have told Bloomberg.  

The U.S. levied new sanctions against Russia last month, on the second anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and in response to the death of opposition politician and anticorruption activist Alexey Navalny.

Among the 500 targets of the new sanctions, the U.S. Treasury and State are targeting Russia’s tanker operator Sovcomflot and more than a dozen crude oil tankers linked to the Russian state firm.

Refiners in India are now concerned that the new sanctions would make it more difficult to have oil shipped from Russia on non-sanctioned vessels, which would raise shipping costs and eat into the refining margins, industry sources in India told Reuters in February. 

As term supply commitments for the next Indian financial year beginning April 1 are being discussed, Indian Oil Corporation, the largest state-controlled refiner, is expected to reduce contracted Russian crude supply, six sources told Bloomberg on Wednesday.

Two other major state refiners, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL), have decided that as of now they won’t be making firm commitments to buy contracted crude supply from Russia during the next financial year, according to Bloomberg’s sources.

Still, Indian refiners are expected to take substantial volumes of Russian crude on the spot market in the next financial year, as state refiners are likely to procure 40% of their crude supply on the global spot markets.

For most of 2023, Indian refiners enjoyed high refining margins and profits as they imported cheap Russian crude at $20 a barrel and more below international benchmarks.   


But higher competition for Russian supply in Asia increased freight costs, and tougher U.S. sanctions enforcement has eroded the refining margins, while Indian refiners are now on the lookout for more non-Russian supply.     

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on March 06 2024 said:
    India is an economic superpower and the world's third-largest importer of crude oil after China and the United States. Moreover, it doesn't recognize Western sanctions against Russia. Furthermore, Indian companies wouldn't shy away from Russian oil sold to them at a discount estimated around $4 a barrel.

    Therefore such claims could be ignored as part and parcel of Western disinformation news.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert

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