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India Will Not Pay In Rupees For Russian Oil, For Now

For the time being, India will not pay in rupees for oil from Russia or any other oil exporter, the junior petroleum minister of the world’s third-largest oil importer said on Monday.

“At present, oil public sector undertakings neither have any contract nor is any such proposal under consideration from Russia or any other country for purchase of crude oil in Indian rupees,” Indian junior oil minister Rameswar Teli told Parliament today, as carried by Reuters.

Reports emerged earlier this month that India was exploring ways to set up a mechanism for a rupee-ruble trade with Russia, including for oil.

Since the sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine limited the Russian trade in U.S. dollars, there have been reports that the importers not shunning Russian oil—China and India—could start settling some transactions in the local currencies of the importing countries, the Chinese yuan or the Indian rupee, respectively.

There has been apparent willingness from both India and Russia to deepen their energy ties, but they have to find ways how to continue oil trade without the SWIFT banking system and how to get bank guarantees and insurance for cargoes. 

India is also considering ways to keep trade with Russia, not only in crude oil, by setting up an alternative payments system with an account at a bank, an Indian official told Hindustan Times earlier this month. This could prove tricky to do because neither the Russian ruble nor the Indian rupee are widely used in international trade, analysts say.  

India, which has abstained at several United Nations votes to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine, has been taking advantage of the deeply discounted Russian spot cargoes unwanted in the West in recent weeks.

Exports of Russian crude oil to India have surged since the start of the month as sanctions bit in, forcing traders in Europe to avoid Russian cargos, the Financial Times reported, citing data from Kpler.

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By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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