India's imports of cheap Russian crude surge since Ukraine invasion

An employee holds a sample of crude oil at the Irkutsk Oil Co-owned Yarakta field in the Irkutsk region
An employee holds a sample of crude oil at the Yarakta oilfield, owned by Irkutsk Oil Co, in the Irkutsk region, Russia on March 11, 2019. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko/File Photo

NEW DELHI, May 30 (Reuters) - India has received 34 million barrels of discounted Russian oil since Moscow invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, according to Refinitiv Eikon data, more than trebling the value of total imports from Russia, including other products, compared with the same period of 2021.

The volumes of India's seaborne oil imports from Russia exclude CPC Blend oil, which is also exported via Russia's Black Sea port, but mostly supplied by Kazakhstan's subsidiaries of western countries as transit volumes.

India's oil imports from Russia have been rising since February, as Asia's third largest economy and the world's third biggest oil importer, turned to deeply discounted Russian oil, mostly Urals crude, to cut its imports bill.

The country received more than 24 million barrels of Russian crude this month, up from 7.2 million barrels in April and about 3 million in March, and is set to receive about 28 million barrels in June, according to Refinitiv Eikon oil flows.

Surging energy imports helped push India's total goods imports from Russia between Feb. 24 and May 26 to $6.4 billion, compared with $1.99 billion in the same period last year, according to government figures seen by Reuters.

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India's exports to Russia, however, fell nearly 50% to $377.07 million over that period, as its government is yet to set up a formal payment mechanism.

As the West responded to the invasion with a barrage of sanctions, India has come under fire for its continued purchases of Russian energy. New Delhi has brushed off the criticism, saying those imports made only a fraction of the country's overall needs and has said it will keep buying "cheap" Russian oil, arguing a sudden stop would drive up costs for its consumers. read more

Russian and Indian energy companies have also been discussing term supply agreements and possible acquisitions of stakes in Russian oil and gas projects. read more

Reporting by Aftab Ahmed and Nidhi Verma Editing by Tomasz Janowski

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