Amid criticism over Russia purchase, India oil imports from US to rise 11%


India's oil imports from the United States will rise by 11 per cent this year, officials said as the country looks to secure supplies from around the world, including heavily sanctioned Russia. The rush to stock up comes amid a global surge in prices following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which led to brent crude topping $110 per barrel earlier this month. Spiking oil prices threaten to hamper growth opportunities and stretch public finances for an Indian (and global) economy still emerging from the pandemic-induced slowdown. India is also looking to Russia; Indian Oil Corp has ordered three million barrels and Hindustan Petroleum Corp has booked two million barrels.

A one-time purchase of three million barrels of crude oil is significantly less than India's daily requirement - close to 5 million barrels, by some estimates - it does represent a possible steady source, at least for the future.

The fact Russia is selling at discounted prices - driven by a need to generate revenue in the face of the West's sanctions - is a boost for India's coffers.

India's move to buy oil from Russia - against which several nations, led by the West, have imposed sanctions - led to raised eyebrows from the US. The Indian government is already under some diplomatic pressure over its refusal to criticise Russia for its actions in Ukraine. India has urged an end to the violence but abstained from voting against Russia.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that while India buying Russian oil would not violate American sanctions against Moscow, she urged Delhi to 'think about where you want to standwhen history books are written'.

On Friday she said: "... we made a decision about banning Russian oil... every country has not... they have different economic reasonings..."

In between these statements government sources said "legitimate energy transactions should not be politicised".

It was also pointed out Russia sells more to Europe than India, and that Western sanctions have carve-outs to avoid any impact on energy imports from Moscow. Oil is a key subject for India - which imports around 85 per cent of its needs - and the government welcomes all competitive offers, the sources said.

India buys most of its oil from the Middle East, but the United States has emerged as the fourth-biggest source and this year supplies will rise substantially.

Iraq supplies 23 per cent, followed by Saudi Arabia at 18 per cent, and the United Arab Emirates at 11 per cent.

The American share of the Indian oil market will rise to 8 per cent this year, a government official, said on condition of anonymity.

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