India’s oil imports from Russia continue to surge as cheaper Russian crude exports find more and more buyers in the world’s third-largest crude oil importer.
India shattered its previous records of imports of Russian crude and took in May 1.96 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude from Russia—an all-time high, according to data from energy cargo tracker Vortexa.
India’s Russian oil imports alone were higher than the 1.74 million bpd in India’s combined imports from the next four largest suppliers – Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the U.S.
Russian oil accounted for a massive 42% of all Indian crude imports, compared to negligible volumes India had imported before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
A year since the war began, India has turned from a marginal buyer of Russian crude to the most important market for Moscow’s oil alongside China. Indian refiners, not complying with the G7 price cap and looking for cheap opportunistic purchases, have snapped up many of the Russian Urals cargoes, which used to go to northwest Europe before the EU embargo.
Record imports of cheap Russian crude into India have undermined OPEC’s share of supply so much that OPEC’s share of all Indian oil imports has hit the lowest in at least 22 years.
Russia has been India’s top crude oil supplier for months now and overtook Iraq as the top supplier for the 2022/2023 fiscal year. Russia accounted for nearly a fourth of India’s crude oil imports in 2022/2023 as the world’s third-largest crude importer welcomed on average 1.6 million bpd of Russian crude out of a total of 4.65 million bpd of imports.
In recent months, India’s spot purchases of crude from the Middle East have fallen, as cheaper Russian spot barrels are making their way to Indian refiners. Indian Oil, the largest refiner in the country by capacity, is committed to its term deals with Middle Eastern producers, but spot purchases from the Middle East have dropped amid the Russian competition, Shrikant Madhav Vaidya, chairman of Indian Oil, said last month.