India’s crude oil imports from Russia have increased 50-fold since April and now account for 10% of all crude purchased overseas, a senior government official said on Thursday.
Russian oil represented only 0.2% of all oil imported by India before the war against Ukraine.
“Russian oil now accounts for 10% of India’s oil import basket in April. It is now among the top 10 suppliers,” the official told reporters here.
No less than 40% of Russian oil was purchased by private refiners – Reliance Industries and Nayara Energy, backed by Rosneft.
Last month, Russia overtook Saudi Arabia to become India’s second-largest oil supplier behind Iraq as refiners bought Russian crude available at a huge discount after the war in Ukraine.
Indian refiners bought around 25 million barrels of Russian oil in May.
Russian-origin crude accounted for 10% of India’s total maritime imports in April for the first time, falling from 0.2% throughout 2021 and the first quarter of 2022.
India, the world’s third largest oil importer and consumer, has long defended Russian crude oil purchases after President Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion of Ukraine.
The Oil Ministry said last month that “energy purchases from Russia remain miniscule compared to India’s total consumption”. Iraq remained India’s top supplier in May and Saudi Arabia is now the third supplier.
India has taken advantage of reduced prices to increase its oil imports from Russia at a time when global energy prices have risen.
After the United States and China, India is the world’s third largest consumer of oil, more than 85% of which is imported.
Following its invasion of Ukraine, there are now fewer buyers for Russian Urals crude oil, as some foreign governments and companies have decided to avoid Russian energy exports, and its price has fallen. Indian refiners took advantage of this and bought Russian crude oil at a price as high as $30 a barrel.
Previously, crude was disadvantageous due to high freight cost.