India has bought more than twice as much crude oil from Russia in the two months since its invasion of Ukraine as it did in the whole of 2021, according to Reuters calculations, as Indian refiners snapped up discounted oil that others have shunned.
Refiners in India have placed orders for at least 40 million barrels of Russian oil since the invasion on Feb. 24, Reuters calculations based on information from crude tenders and traders show. The purchases are for loading in the June quarter. That compares with total imports of Russian oil into India of 16 million barrels in the whole of last year, according to Reuters calculations.
The world’s third biggest oil importer and consumer ships in over 85% of its crude oil needs of 5 million barrels per day (bpd). Its refiners are buying cheaper Russian oil to partly offset the impact of higher official selling prices of some producers like Saudi Arabia, company sources said.
“We try to insulate consumers as much from price shocks as we can, but we need to protect our profits as well… so we are buying Russian oil,” an official at one refiner, who declined to be named, said.
According to Reuters calculations, purchases of Russian barrels by private refiners Reliance Industries and Nayara Energy outstrip imports by state refiners Indian Oil Corp , Hindustan Petroleum Corp, and Bharat Petroleum Corp.
Reliance has purchased at least 15 million barrels of Russian oil so far for the June quarter, trade sources said last week. Reliance did not respond to a request for comment at that time.
Nayara Energy, part owned by Russia’s top producer Rosneft , has purchased 8 million to 9 million barrels of Russian crude for loading in April-May, 2022. Indian companies are buying Russian oil on a delivered basis, with sellers arranging for shipping and insurance.