India’s imports of Russian oil climbed to an all-time high of 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd) in January. This marks a 9.2% increase from December last year, keeping Moscow as the top oil seller to New Delhi.
Russian oil accounted for 27% of the five million bpd of crude oil imported by India last in January, data from trade sources via Reuters showed.
Russia is followed by Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Canada as India’s top oil suppliers.
State-run oil refiners typically avoid maintenance shutdowns in December and January in efforts to meet their annual production targets for the first quarter. As a result, rises in oil imports in India frequently occur in December and January.
However, until February 2022, Russian oil was rarely bought by refiners in India due to high costs. In December 2021, India imported 36,522 bpd of crude oil from Russia, with its overall share of imports from Russian oil for the year totaling about 1%.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the breakdown of trading between it and Europe, the country discounted its oil supply. After this, India, China, and other countries have significantly increased their buying of Russian crude oil, with India now standing as Russia’s key oil client.
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Last month, India’s imports of Russian Sokol crude oil hit a record high of 100,900 bpd. Output from Russia’s Sakhalin-1 oil and gas project resumed under new operators in January, after Russian ruler Vladimir Putin ordered the seizure of the previously Exxon-led project in October last year.
India’s oil imports from Canada also rose significantly last month, hitting 314,000 bpd at its peak. Iraqi oil imports climbed to a seven-month high of 983,000 bpd, up 11% from December, the data showed.
“India’s oil imports from Russia would continue to rise this year, mainly because of discounts if there are no further stringent actions by the Western countries targeting Russian oil,” a source at an Indian refiner told Al Jazeera.
Increased dependence on discounted Russian oil has dragged down the share of Indian imports from the Middle East to an all-time low of 48%. African imports also declined to a 17-year low, and those from Latin America dropped to the lowest in 15 years.