Energy News Today

India isn’t likely to stop buying Russian oil any time soon. Here’s why


Despite criticism from the West, India is not backing down on its commitment to buying Russian oil.

As Brent crude retreats back to near $100 a barrel, foreign policy experts say India’s drive to buy oil will only escalate as inflation concerns take center stage.

“India is getting negative attention for the acquisition of oil by the U.S. and Europe… but India has made a judgement that its national interests dictate — keeping oil prices in the best position that it can is vital for domestic stability and economic interests,” said Frank Wisner, former U.S. ambassador to India and an international affairs advisor at Squire Patton Boggs.

As the world’s third largest oil importer, India is vulnerable to rising oil prices. Further, pressure is growing on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to tame rampant inflation for his 1.3 billion citizens.

“The availability and price of Russian oil is too attractive,” added Wisner.

Analysts at Nomura say for every $1 increase in the price of oil, India’s import bill increases by $2.1 billion.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, India’s imports of Russian oil have surged. Early data from June shows India’s supply of Russian crude reached nearly 1 million barrels per day, up from 800,000 barrels per day in May, according to Again Capital. Currently, Russian oil makes up 25% of India’s energy imports, due in part to the sanctions placed on Iran. Still, critics blame India for financing Russia’s wartime efforts in Ukraine.

However, Americans frustrated with higher prices should take note of this observation: “Oil prices would likely be $8 to $10 higher if India was not buying the volumes of Russian crude that it is,” said John Kilduff, founding partner of Again Capital. Experts say recession concerns could reduce the amount of oil India buys, but they are making no major changes in estimates at this point.

Last week, G7 leaders floated the idea of implementing a price cap on Russian oil. However, strategists — including RBC Capital’s Helima Croft — say this could backfire, especially now that the price of oil is trading off its highs.

“I don’t think the Russians are ever going to accept a price cap… discounts become more challenging in a lower priced environment,” said Croft.

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India isn’t likely to stop buying Russian oil any time soon. Here’s why

2022-07-08 13:48:38

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