Pakistan on Wednesday placed its first order for discounted Russian crude oil under a new deal between Islamabad and Moscow, the country’s petroleum minister Musadik Malik told Reuters.

Through the deal, Pakistan will buy Russian crude only, not refined fuels, with imports expected to reach 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) if the initial transaction goes smoothly. One cargo is planned to dock at Karachi port in May.

Malik confirmed source information via Reuters, saying “Our orders are in, we have placed [them] already… It is true that we will be getting only crude, not refined oil.” He added that Pakistan’s Refinery Limited will initially refine the Russian crude oil, with additional refineries to be included later after a trial run is completed.

Russian energy minister Nikolay Shulginov led a delegation to Islamabad in January to hold talks on the deal, concluding that oil exports to the country would begin in March. At the time, Shulginov also said that Pakistan will pay for crude oil purchases in currencies of friendly countries.

“We have agreed that the payments will be made in the currencies of friendly countries,” he had said at a joint news conference with Pakistan’s economic affairs minister Ayaz Sadiq in January, Business Recorder reports. Shulginov did not specify which “friendly countries” he was referring to, and neither two ministers gave details on the size of planned purchases.

The move by Pakistan mirrors that of neighbouring India, which began to significantly increase its imports of Russian crude oil at the end of last year  after Russia heavily discounted its oil supply due to EU sanctions. In March, India’s imports of Russian crude oil rose for the seventh straight month.

India’s refineries use Russian crude imports to boost outputs and profits from its refined fuels. Earlier this month, it was found that despite EU sanctions on Russian energy supplies, Russian oil has been getting a backdoor into Europe via India. India’s diesel exports to the continent rose 12-16% in the last fiscal year, and approximately 50% of India’s jet fuel exports were to Europe in 2022-2023.