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India’s Crude Oil Import Bill Doubles

India’s crude oil import bill doubled in the financial year that ended on March 31, totaling $119 billion, The Hindu reported, citing data from the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell at the oil ministry of the country.

The world’s third-largest oil importer, which relies on foreign oil for more than 85 percent of its consumption, spent $13.7 billion on buying crude in March alone, the report noted, as international oil prices hit the highest in 14 years.

Imports also increased during the period, from 196.5 million tons in fiscal 2020/2021 to 212.2 million tons in fiscal 2021/2022, the data showed.

Because of its huge dependence on imported oil, India has become a factor as important as China for international oil markets. It has also been one of the most vocal opponents of OPEC+ efforts to control oil price levels by controlling production.

Also because of its dependence on imports and the latest price trends, India substantially increased its intake of Russian crude amid Western sanctions for the war in Ukraine. Per a Bloomberg report from last week, India was doubling its purchases of Russian oil, regardless of grade, due to the discount that Russian oil is selling for because of the sanctions.

This has drawn warnings from the United States, which, as it did with Iran, wants to cut off access to markets for Russian oil. But India has stood its ground. And it is not about to stop at oil, it seems. Coal demand in India is also strong, and buyers are looking at Russian cargos amid a shortage that has already caused a string of blackouts in some Indian regions.

In March, Indian purchases of Russian coal hit the highest in over two years, according to Kpler. This month, coal demand hit the highest in almost four decades, and shortages caused blackouts across three states: Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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