One of the options on the table is to lend the money in Russian bank accounts to entities that buy oil. These entities could repay the loan in India. IndianOil and Bharat Petroleum, both public sector refinery retailers, are among the largest Indian buyers of Russian crude.
The loan option aims to take advantage of Russia becoming India’s main oil supplier after the conflict in Ukraine. Indian refiners began gobbling up Russian crude at discounts as sanctions made those barrels too hot to handle for American and European buyers.
IndianOil, a subsidiary of Bharat Petroleum, Oil India and ONGC Videsh have invested nearly $5.5 billion to purchase a 49.9% stake in Vankor and another 29.9% in Siberia’s Tas-Yuryakh fields . Besides, ONGC Videsh also has a 20% stake in the Sakhalin-I project, which it had acquired in 2001.
None of these companies have been able to repatriate dividends on profits from these investments to India since the conflict in Ukraine. The money is in their accounts in Russia. Initially, the idea was to use the money to cover local expenses and cash telephone calls. But with the amount rising as the conflict continues, they are now looking at other options.
Russia was removed from SWIFT, the platform for settling international banking transactions, after Moscow sent troops to Ukraine in February 2022. Moscow, in turn, imposed restrictions on the repatriation of dollars from Russia to control the volatility of ruble exchange rates.