India's Imports Of Russian Crude Oil Likely To Peak In May Amid Competition From China

Swarajya Staff

May 04, 2023, 12:48 PM | Updated 12:48 PM IST

(Representative image via Wikimedia).
(Representative image via Wikimedia).

Russia maintained its position as the largest crude supplier to India in April with a market share of 36 per cent. However, a sluggish monthly growth has led to speculation that imports from Russia could reach their peak in May due to competition from China.

In April, India received 1.68 million barrels a day of crude oil from Russia, marking a 4 per cent increase from the 1.61 million barrels in March.

Meanwhile, China imported 1.3 million barrels per day of crude by sea from Russia, and Europe imported 206,000 barrels per day during the same month.

India's overall crude imports dropped by 3.5 per cent to 4.6 mbd in April, with Russia's share in the imports increasing to 36.4 per cent from 33.8 per cent in March.

Moscow's share in Indian crude imports was only 0.2 per cent before the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

However, the Import of deeply discounted Russian oil has slowed in recent months.

Russian crude imports rose by 29 per cent in December 2022 and 26 in February this year, but slowed down to 1.8 per cent in March and 4 per cent in April.

Meanwhile, Iraq's share in the Indian market fell to 17.6 per cent in April from 18.4 per cent in March, while Saudi Arabia's share dropped to 14.5 per cent from 21 per cent.

The UAE's share dropped to 4 per cent from 6.5 per cent while US and Africa marginally gained.

According to analysts, India's import of Russian crude has reached a new record in April.

However, there has been a slowed month-on-month increase and it might hit its peak this month.

"Increased competition for Urals from China will likely put a lid on upsides to India's imports of Russian crude," Serena Huang, an analyst at Vortexa, was quoted as saying by The Economic Times.

Urals, Russia's flagship mid-sulphur crude, has attracted immense attention from India and China due to its significantly low cost compared to the global benchmark Brent.

It's easier to transport Urals and pay for it as the Russian crude is mostly traded below the G7-imposed price cap of $60 per barrel on oil from Russia.

India's import of Urals increased by 9 per cent in April, bouncing back from a 5 per cent drop registered in March.

The percentage share of Urals in Russian oil imported by India rose to 73.6 per cent in April, marking an increase from 70 per cent in March.

ESPO, another Russian grade, saw an almost doubled share of 10.5 per cent in April compared to the previous month.

India's Russian refined products imports dropped 31 per cent to 125,000 bpd in April.

Meanwhile, Europe's imports stayed around 479,000 bpd, while China's surged by 44 per cent to 321,000 bpd.

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