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oil imports: India’s oil imports from Russia hit 12-month low in Jan as sanctions bite

India’s crude oil imports from its top supplier Russia fell for a second straight month in January to their lowest in a year as tighter Western sanctions hit supply of light sweet Sokol grade, preliminary ship tracking data showed.
The world’s third-biggest oil importer and consumer boosted imports of Iraqi oil to offset the drop in Russian oil imports, according to the data.

Imports from Russia declined 4.2% to 1.3 million barrels per day (bpd), according to LSEG data. Data from ship tracking agency Vortexa showed a slide of 9% to 1.2 million bpd.

“The narrowing of Russian crude discounts versus Middle Eastern crude, recent U.S. sanctions on shipowners carrying Russian crude above the price cap and rising tanker premiums as a result of the Red Sea attacks have made Russian crude less attractive for Indian refiners in recent months,” said Serena Huang, Vortexa’s head of APAC analysis.

India’s imports of Russian crude could fall further in the coming months, she added.

Last year, India emerged as a top buyer of sea-borne Russian oil sold at a discount after Western countries halted imports following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. However, Washington in December imposed sanctions on ships and vessel operators carrying Russian oil sold above a $60-per barrel cap set by the Group of Seven nations. Banks and service providers have been asked to ensure cargoes do not breach the price limit. Following the sanctions, several tankers that were meant to deliver Sokol crude to India have been diverted.

According to LSEG data, India is scheduled to get at least five cargoes of Sokol crude in February, compared with none in January.

Vessel Jaguar is expected to discharge at a facility of private refiner Nayara Energy in Vadinar port in western Gujarat state on Thursday, LSEG data and a shipping report showed.

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