Indian import of cheap Russian crude oil touches record high in May

India has imported more than 24 million barrels of Russian crude oil in May – 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, news agency Reuters reported citing the Refinitiv Eikon data.

Since the Russian troops invaded Ukraine on February 24, India has received 34 million barrels of discounted Russian oil, the data shows. This import is treble the value of total imports from Russia, including other products, compared with the same period of 2021.

Key points on India’s oil imports from Russia

  1. India’s oil imports from Russia have been rising since February.
  2. India – 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.
  3. The increasing energy imports helped push India’s total goods imports from Russia between February 24 and May 26 to $6.4 billion, compared with $1.99 billion in the same period last year, Reuters added.
  4. India’s exports to Russia, however, fell nearly 50 per cent to $377.07 million over that period, as its government is yet to set up a formal payment mechanism.
  5. While the West responded to the invasion with a number of sanctions, India stayed away from voting against Russia on world forums. It has also been criticised for its continued purchases of Russian energy. India 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.

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