crude oil: Russian crude oil imports to India fall 4% in November

India’s imports of Russian crude oil fell 4% sequentially in November to 1.49 million barrels a day amid a broader decline in crude imports by New Delhi, according to energy cargo tracker Vortexa. Imports of Russian crude is expected to fall further in December.

Despite the drop in November shipments, Russia remained the top supplier with a 33% share in India’s total crude imports last month, falling from 34% in October and 39% in September. Iraq (23%) and Saudi Arabia (15%) were the second- and the third-largest suppliers.

Iraq and the UAE (7%) gained in crude exports to India while Saudi Arabia, the US (3%) and Africa (5.5%) lost some share in November over the previous month.

“There has been an increase in Russian crude being discharged into Turkey (up nearly 130,000 barrels per day (bpd) in November, presenting competition for Indian refiners. Russian crude has likely remained attractively priced to Indian refiners, so it is just a matter of availability,” said Serena Huang, an analyst at Vortexa.

Russian crude arrivals into Turkey in November was one of the highest historically, and there could be limited upsides for Turkey to take more Russian crude, she added.

“Russian crude exports in November are down over 15% month-on-month, which would likely see lower arrivals into India in December,” Huang said. Ships take about a month after loading at Russian ports to reach India.On Thursday, Russia said it would deepen its voluntary oil supply cut to 500,000 barrels per day from the previously pledged 300,000 bpd, which could further constrain Russian exports.This is part of the additional voluntary supply curbs various members of the producer club OPEC+ have announced. Poor weather conditions in the Black Sea have also contributed to lower Russian crude exports in November.

The G7 price cap of $60 per barrel hasn’t been a deterrent for Russian oil trade. For months, ships have been able to deliver Russian oil purchased above the cap although the US has acted against some ships recently. “The US sanctions on the three shipping companies and their three vessels are likely to have limited impact on India’s oil imports from Russia,” Huang said. “Unless there is strict policing and large-scale clamp down on violators of the price cap, I doubt that the recent US sanctioning will be much of a deterrence.”

The G7 sanctions bar the use of Western shipping, finance, and insurance for Russian oil sold above the cap.

India’s overall crude imports fell 1% sequentially in November to 4.51 million barrels a day.

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