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refiners in India: India seeks more Middle East crude as Red Sea attacks delay cargoes


Refiners in India, the world’s third-largest crude oil importer, are seeking to boost supplies from the Middle East and other nearby nations as recent attacks on ships in the Red Sea raise the risk of longer shipping time and higher costs, according to people familiar witxh the matter.

Shippers turned cautious about entering the Red Sea in recent weeks due to multiple attacks by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels. That prompted massive diversions, with many ships taking a longer route around the Cape of Good Hope, adding as much as three weeks to the voyage. Vessels carrying cargoes from the producers in the Mediterranean and North Sea are among those affected, as they travel the Suez Canal and Red Sea en route to Asia.

Shipping companies are asking Indian firms to bear the risk premiums for deliveries via the usual route, said the people, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue. The refiners are not willing to bear the additional liability and are scouting for alternative suppliers, they said.

Indian refiners are concerned their margins may come under pressure due to a sharp rise in insurance and freight costs. However, they also need to keep pace with domestic demand, which is rising because of the South Asian nation’s rapid economic growth.

State-owned Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd. has already arranged crude oil from other sources, a company official said, but didn’t provide more details.

The government is advising merchants to take longer routes and diversify energy imports, with greater emphasis on buying from the Persian Gulf and Central Asia, officials from India’s trade ministry said on condition of anonymity. Talks are also underway with countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to strengthen maritime security cooperation in the Red Sea region, they said.A spokesperson from the ministry didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.The flow of Russian oil from the Black Sea region may be affected and rerouted, leading to a higher premium for crude from the Middle East, said Madhavi Arora, lead economist at Emkay Global Financial Services Ltd. India’s refined fuel product exports to the EU too could be impacted, she said.

Although, Indian refiners are concerned about supplies, there hasn’t been any impact on refinery run rates so far, the people said. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed the situation in the Middle East, including the Red Sea attacks, with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday.


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