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India continues with Russian oil buys, cuts shipments from Saudi

Russia dominated Saudi Arabia in oil supplies as the world’s fastest-growing major economy for fossil fuels in October, relegating the Kingdom to third place.

Iraq was India’s top oil supplier, according to the data from Vortexa.

Saudi Arabia’s decline in India’s oil market has coincided with Russia’s rise, and ironically occurred amid growing diplomatic ties between Riyadh and New Delhi.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud is visiting India this month to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Russian oil has become the mainstay of Indian refiners in only six months, something that took decades for West Asian suppliers, and the US, to achieve.

The question now remains is for how long, as the US and Europe try to force the world to toe their line in imposing price caps on Russian oil from December.

Russian crude supplies rose marginally in October, underscoring India’s push-back against US pressure to stop Russian purchases.

Also, Indian refiners expanded their basket of Russian crude by adding 15 per cent East Siberia Pacific Ocean blends, 6 per cent of Arctic Oil, and 3 per cent of Novy Port to their overall Urals-dominated Russian supply mix.

Russia supplied 891,000 barrels per day in October, a 20.5 per cent share of India’s crude import market, compared with 876,000 barrels per day of crude in September, according to Vortexa, a London-based provider of commodity intelligence.

Saudi Arabia shipments slumped to 706,000 barrels per day last month, compared with 807,000 barrels per day in September – a 16 per cent share.

Saudi Arabia’s overall crude exports fell in October by 700,000 barrels per day, said Serena Huang, a Singapore-based analyst at Vortexa.

That could have impacted Indian volumes, she added.

Iraq was the biggest supplier of crude to India in October at 948,000 barrels per day, compared with 937,000 barrels a day in September, accounting for a 22 per cent share of India’s imports last month.

India paid €509 million for Russian oil purchases last month as of October 24, according to the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air.

That compares with China’s €3.2 billion, Türkiye’s €931 million, and Germany’s €854 million.

Russia supplied 1 million barrels per day to India in September at $112 a barrel, becoming the biggest supplier, according to India’s Customs data.

Saudi Arabia supplied 874,000 barrels per day at $133 per barrel. Iraq came third with 864,000 barrels per day of crude last month at an average rate of $107 a barrel.

India’s crude basket averaged $91 per barrel. Total crude purchases by India averaged $121 per barrel last month.

The Customs data differs from the data provided by agencies that track shipping movements.

Indian refiners are also raising the imports of the Urals grade ahead of a price cap the US and Europe plan to impose on Russian oil from early December, informed an industry official.

China, India, and Türkiye, the biggest buyers of Russian oil, are yet to agree on the proposal.

It is unclear if the proposal will go ahead after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries+, including Russia, slashed output by 2 million barrels per day, sending crude rates into a tailspin.

“I think India will be able to continue to import Russian oil, and it will not be browbeaten by the Western alliance in its sovereign decisions to purchase oil from whatever source in its own national interest,” said London-based oil industry consultant Tilak Doshi, who was previously with Saudi Aramco.

Russia is among the world’s top three oil producers, and its oil cannot be easily replaced, added Doshi.

Russia’s medium sour Urals, similar to some West Asian grades, such as the Arab medium, is suited to Indian refiners when available at a discount on a delivered basis, but the availability of the grade was an issue in the past since Europe and China consumed most of the Russian oil.

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