After a three-month gap, Saudi Arabia became India’s second-largest oil supplier, narrowly surpassing Russia, while Iraq remained at the top of the list in August, data from industry and trade sources showed.
India, the world’s third-largest oil importer and consumer, imported 863,950 bpd of crude from Saudi Arabia, up 4.8 percent from the previous month, while imports from Russia fell 2.4 percent to 855,950 bpd, the data showed.
Despite Saudi gains, OPEC’s share of India’s oil fell to 59.8 percent, its lowest level in at least 16 years, as India cut African imports.
India has become Russia’s second-biggest buyer of oil after China, as other countries cut back on purchases following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in late February.
The two countries are keen to get the raw material at a discount compared to supplies from other countries, which is seen as a buffer against the impact of Western sanctions on Moscow.
New Delhi has yet to publicly condemn Moscow’s “special military operation” in Ukraine. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet President Vladimir Putin on Friday on the sidelines of a summit of the regional security group Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
India’s monthly oil imports from Russia have been falling after hitting a record in June as Moscow narrowed the discounts it offered on its oil and refiners boosted more regular supplies.
“Ultimately you can’t cut Saudi supply because of term contract terms, while Russia was able to cut the discount because demand is strong, especially in Asia,” said Ehsan Ul Haq, an analyst at Refinitiv.
India’s total crude oil imports fell to a five-month low of 4.45 million bpd in August, down 4.1 percent from July, data showed.
Increased imports of Caspian oil, mainly from Kazakhstan, Russia and Azerbaijan, have affected India’s purchases from Africa and other countries.
African oil’s share halved to 4.2 percent in August, while Latin America’s share fell to 5.3 percent from about 7.7 percent, the data showed.
“During the monsoon season, India’s diesel demand is lower, which means lower imports of West African oil,” Mr Harker said.
In August, the United Arab Emirates ranked fourth, while Kazakhstan overtook Kuwait as India’s fifth-largest oil supplier, followed by the United States.
Increased purchases of Saudi and Emirati oil lifted the Middle East’s share in India to 59% in August from 54% in July, while the CIS countries’ share rose to about a quarter from 23%, the data showed.
Russian oil accounted for about 16% of India’s total imports from April to August in the first five months of this fiscal, at 757,000 bpd, compared with 20,000 bpd, or a 0.5% share, in the same period a year earlier, the data showed.
That boosted the CIS countries’ share of India’s April-August oil imports to about 20 percent from 2.9 percent, the data showed.
(Apart from the title, this story was unedited by NDTV staff and was posted from a syndicated feed.)