India, the world’s third largest oil importer and consumer, has emerged as the top buyer of the discounted Russian seaborne oil after Western nations stopped buying from Moscow following its invasion of Ukraine.
Middle Eastern supplies are also likely to tighten further following Saudi Arabia’s decision to extend its voluntary output cuts through the end of this year, prompting India to consider other options.
India imported on average 1.76 million barrels per day (bpd) of Russian oil from April to September, or the first half of fiscal 2023/2024, more than double the about 780,000 bpd in the same year-ago period, tanker data from industry sources showed.
Last month, India’s imports from Russia, which had slipped in July and August, recovered to 1.54 million bpd, up 11.8% from August and 71.7% from a year ago, the data showed.
Russia was the top oil supplier to India in April to September, followed by Iraq and Saudi Arabia. India’s imports from Iraq and Saudi Arabia fell by 12% and about 23% to 928,000 bpd and 607,500 bpd, respectively, during the April-September period, the data showed. Imports from the Middle East in April-September declined by about 28% to 1.97 million bpd, dragging down the region’s share in India’s overall oil imports to 44% from 60% during the same year-ago period.
The share of oil from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which include Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Russia, nearly doubled to 43% mainly due to higher purchases from Moscow, the data shows.
Lower purchases from the Middle East dragged down the share of OPEC in India’s overall imports to the lowest in 22 years.
The share of members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), mainly from the Middle East and Africa, fell to 46% in April to September compared with about 63% a year ago, a Reuters analysis of the data that dates back to 2001/02 showed.