“India’s Legitimate Energy Transactions Shouldn’t Be Politicised”: Sources

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'India's Legitimate Energy Transactions Shouldn't Be Politicised': Sources

India is highly dependent on imports for meeting its energy requirements.

New Delhi:

India’s legitimate energy transactions should not be politicised and countries self-sufficient in oil or those themselves importing from Russia cannot credibly advocate restrictive trading, government sources said on Friday amid US criticism of India over India taking up Russia’s offer of discounted crude oil.

Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), the nation’s top oil firm, has already bought as much as 3 million barrels of crude oil that Russia had offered at a steep discount to prevailing international rates, said sources.

While clarifying that it would not be a violation of American sanctions on Russia which has invaded Ukraine with reports of serious human rights violations, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki had said on Tuesday that it would amount to support of Russian invasion. “But also think about where you want to stand when history books are written at this moment in time. Support for the Russian leadership is support for an invasion that obviously is having a devastating impact,” Ms Psaki had said.

Pointing out that Russia has been a marginal supplier of crude oil to India (less than 1% of our requirement, not among the top 10 sources), sources said that the jump in oil prices after the Ukraine conflict has now added to our challenges and the pressure for competitive sourcing has naturally increased. There is no government-to-government arrangement for the import from Russia, they added.

As the US and other western nations slapped sanctions on Moscow, Russia has begun offering oil and other commodities at discounted prices to India and other large importers.

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi on Thursday did not rule out buying discounted crude oil from Russia saying India looks at all options at all points of time as a major importer of oil.

“India has to keep focusing on competitive energy sources. We welcome such offers from all producers. Indian traders too operate in global energy markets to explore the best options,” a source said.

India is highly dependent on imports for meeting its energy requirements. Nearly 85% of our crude oil requirement (5 million barrels a day) has to be imported.

India has not supported the Russian invasion of Ukraine. New Delhi has consistently asked all stakeholders to resolve differences through dialogue. It has, however, abstained in all United Nations resolutions against Russia.

“Russia is offering oil and other commodities at a heavy discount. We will be happy to take that,” government officials had said.

Most of India’s oil imports are from West Asia (Iraq 23%, Saudi Arabia 18%, UAE 11%). The USA has also now become an important crude oil source for India (7.3%).  

Amid politics over oil trade, Iran’s ambassador to India today said it is ready to meet India’s energy security needs as negotiations continue between the world powers and Tehran on the lifting of sanctions against the OPEC member, news agency Reuters reported.

Iran used to be the second-largest oil supplier to India but New Delhi had to halt imports from Tehran after former U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal with Iran and re-imposed sanctions on its oil exports.

Imports from the US are expected to increase substantially in the current year, probably by around 11%. Its market share will be 8%. 

Russian oil/gas is being procured by various countries across the world, particularly Europe. 75% of Russia’s total natural gas exports are to OECD Europe (like Germany, Italy, France). European countries (like the Netherlands, Italy, Poland, Finland, Lithuania, Romania) are also large importers of Russian crude oil.

Notably, recent Western sanctions on Russia have carve outs to avoid impact on energy imports from Russia, sources said. 

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