Crude oil imports from Russia have risen more than 50-fold since April and now make up 10 percent of all crude oil bought abroad, a senior government official said Thursday.
Russian oil made up only 0.2 percent of all oil imported by India before the war in Ukraine.
“Russian oil now makes up 10 percent of India’s oil import basket in April. It is now among the top 10 suppliers,” the official told reporters here.
As much as 40 percent of Russia’s oil has been bought by private refiners – Reliance Industries and Rosneft-backed Nayara Energy.
Last month, Russia overtook Saudi Arabia and became India’s second-largest oil supplier after Iraq, as refineries picked up Russian crude oil that was available at a huge discount after the war in Ukraine.
Indian refineries bought about 25 million barrels of Russian oil in May.
Crude oil of Russian origin accounted for 10 percent of total maritime imports into India for the first time in April, rising 0.2 percent in 2021 and the first quarter of 2022.
India, the world’s third-largest oil-importing and consuming nation, has long defended its purchase of crude oil from Russia after President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine.
The Ministry of Oil said last month that “energy purchases from Russia remain minuscule compared to India’s total consumption.” Iraq remained India’s main supplier in May and Saudi Arabia is now the third largest supplier.
India has taken advantage of reduced prices to ramp up oil imports from Russia at a time when global energy prices have risen.
India is the third largest consumer of oil in the world after the US and China, more than 85 percent of which is imported.
After the invasion of Ukraine, there are now fewer buyers for Russian Ural crude oil, and some foreign governments and companies have decided to avoid Russian energy exports, and the price has fallen. Indian refineries have taken advantage of this, buying Russian crude at discounts of up to $30 a barrel.
In the past, the crude oil was disadvantageous because of the high freight costs.