Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

India’s Crude Oil Trade with Russia


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Crude Oil imports of India

Mains level: Read the attached story

The Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) has bought two million barrels of Russian crude oil as Indian energy majors forge ahead with attempts to secure a part of the Russian energy supply.

What is the news?

  • India is exploring alternative payment channels for trade with Russia and the possibility of sourcing additional oil at a discount, even as the West reduces its exposure to Russian oil.
  • Now India needs to make some necessary adjustments in the financial front because of the challenges posed by the American sanctions.

India’s import dependence and Russia

  • India is heavily dependent on oil imports, the bulk of which comes from the Middle East, Africa, Europe, North America, South America, and South-East Asia.
  • Russia’s oil-related exports to India are only about $1 billion.
  • However, Russia is keen to scale this up even as the US has announced a ban on oil imports from the country and the UK has adopted a more gradual reduction.
  • This offers the opportunity for a lucrative supply deal with the second largest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia.

Do you know?

India’s nuclear power project in Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu is built with Russian collaboration.

What is at stake in oil trade with Russia?

  • India, however, needs to find alternative payment channels due to the evolving crisis.
  • This is also crucial for bilateral non-oil trade.

Risks posed by payment crisis

  • Western curbs cutting off some Russian banks from the SWIFT payment system has proven to be a setback for bilateral trade.
  • Many payments worth $500 million to Indian exporters for goods already shipped reportedly being stuck.
  • A steady supply of critical commodities such as fuel and fertilizer from Europe is crucial in India’s efforts to manage inflation.
  • A spike in natural gas in global markets is pushing up the cost of procuring commonly used urea, which is sold at a subsidized price to farmers.

Why is oil supply from Russia important?

  • As much as 85% of India’s oil requirement is met through imports.
  • The government has tried diversifying its supply sources.
  • This would add more gas into the energy basket, giving a strong push to electric mobility, building strategic reserves and blending ethanol in auto fuel to reduce oil import dependence.
  • Extra oil supplies from Russia could aid in this effort.

How’re the two nations handling the situation?

  • India and Russia are exploring a Rupee-Rouble trade mechanism using currency of a third country as a reference.
  • This would allow Indian exporters to be paid in rupees.
  • This would need an Indian and a Russian bank opening shop on each other’s soil.
  • Another option is routing payments via a bank with limited overseas exposure so that it will not attract curbs.
  • For additional Russian oil shipments, India needs access to more vessels and containers.
  • Indian refiners’ ability to process larger quantities of crude oil also needs to be assessed.

Extending the collaborations

  • New Delhi has for long followed the policy of acquiring energy assets abroad to reduce risks related to heavy import dependence on oil.
  • Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd’s investment in Russia’s Sakhalin project is one example.
  • Besides, Russian company PJSC Rosneft Oil Co. is a stakeholder in Nayara Energy Ltd that runs the second largest single-site refinery in Gujarat.


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