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China Surpasses India as Largest Importer of Russian Crude

China has surpassed India as the primary importer of Russian crude oil via sea routes, with China importing 1.82 million barrels per day (bpd) in March compared to India’s 1.36 million bpd. This shift is attributed to India’s slowdown in imports due to sanctions and rising prices.

China’s Rising Imports

In March, China imported 1.82 million bpd of Russian crude by sea, exceeding India’s 1.36 million bpd. This trend marks a significant shift, as China has become the largest buyer of Russian seaborne crude.

India’s Changing Import Dynamics

India’s recent slowdown in Russian crude imports is linked to various sanctions and escalating prices. Despite a 7% month-on-month increase in March, India’s imports fell short of China’s, indicating a strategic shift in its oil procurement.

India’s Oil Import Portfolio

Urals sour-grade oil remains India’s primary import from Russia. However, India has also diversified its sources, with increased imports from Iraq and decreased imports from Saudi Arabia in March.

Geopolitical Implications

India’s increased reliance on Russian crude stems from geopolitical tensions, particularly since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Prior to this conflict, Russia accounted for only a small fraction of India’s total crude oil imports.

OPEC+ Dynamics and India’s Strategy

Despite pressure from Western nations and OPEC+’s efforts to stabilize crude prices, India continues to purchase oil from Russia due to significant demand and Moscow’s discounted offerings. Indian officials argue that this strategy contributes to stabilizing global crude prices.

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