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India’s Shifting Oil Dynamics: Russia Emerges as Top Supplier Despite Sanctions

Amidst tightening Western sanctions, India’s reliance on Russian oil has seen a significant shift. Despite a decline in imports due to sanctions-related challenges, Russia has maintained its position as India’s leading oil supplier for the second consecutive year.

Challenges and Shifts in Supply

In January, India witnessed a 12-month low in domestic oil imports from Russia, primarily attributed to the impact of sanctions. The decline in imports, particularly of the light sweet Sokol grade, prompted India to increase its imports from other sources, notably Iraq. The constraints imposed by recent U.S. sanctions on ships carrying Russian oil above a designated price cap have further complicated the situation, leading to diversions of several tankers originally destined for India.

Implications and Future Outlook

The tightening of Russian crude discounts compared to Middle Eastern alternatives, coupled with sanctions-related disruptions and rising tanker premiums, has made Russian crude less attractive for Indian refiners in recent months. This trend suggests a potential further decline in India’s imports of Russian crude in the foreseeable future. Despite scheduled deliveries in February, challenges persist, indicating a continued dynamic in India’s oil sourcing strategy.

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