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India's intake of Russian crude oil has soared 50-fold since April and, to date, makes up a tenth of the subcontinent's imported oil, the Economic Times reported today, citing a senior government official.
Some 40 percent of the total Russian oil imports are going into private refineries, the report noted.
Earlier this month, data showed India's imports of Russian crude over the first quarter of this year alone were five times higher than all the Russian crude India imported in 2021.
Also this month, Bloomberg reported that some of the largest Indian refiners were looking to negotiate six-month supply deals with Russia's oil giant Rosneft amid lower sales to Western buyers as a result of economic sanctions against Moscow.
It seems, however, that those lower sales to Europe, at least, are more perceived than actual, at least in refined products. Energy Intelligence reported this week that European buyers are importing even more Russian oil products than they were last year.
Crude flows from Russia to Europe are, indeed, lower than they were this time last year.
India and China, meanwhile, have emerged as the biggest alternative route for Russian crude. In May, Russia became India's second-largest oil supplier, overtaking Saudi Arabia. It also overtook the Saudis to become China's biggest oil supplier last month.
Currently, about 50 percent of Russia's crude exports are moving in an eastern direction. This compares to some 75 percent of them going west, to Europe, earlier this year, per Gazprom Neft's chief executive, Alexander Dyukov.
For India and China, Russian oil is a bargain, as it sells at a sharp discount to the international benchmark at a time when oil prices are becoming a serious problem, even for the budgets of developed nations.
As a result, India has become the target of U.S. pressure as Washington seeks to stifle Russia's oil export revenues. However, New Delhi has remained adamant it will continue buying Russian crude, with the oil ministry of the country noting earlier this month that "energy purchases from Russia remain minuscule in comparison to India's total consumption."
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.