India to continue oil purchases from Russia: FM Nirmala Sitharaman

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India’s finance minister on Friday said New Delhi would continue to purchase crude from Russia as its people required oil at a discount after the surge in global prices.

India has already started buying oil from Russia, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, adding that the transition to gas was challenging as supplies had reduced.

Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov is on a visit to New Delhi to get support from the country after US and British officials pressed India to avoid undermining the dollar-based financial system and sanctions imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.

India has bought millions of barrels of crude oil from Russia at a discount since the war erupted, justifying the purchases as beneficial for its citizens and something that even European countries are doing.

Russia will increase its use of non-Western currencies for trade with countries such as India, Lavrov said earlier today, as he hailed New Delhi as a friend that was not taking a “one-sided view” on the Ukraine war.

If India wants to buy anything from Russia, we are ready to discuss it, said Lavrov on purchase of Russian crude oil.

Bloomberg had earlier reported that Russia is offering India steep discounts on the direct sale of oil as mounting international pressure lowers the appetite for its barrels elsewhere following the invasion of Ukraine.

The sanctions-hit nation is offering its flagship Urals grade to India at discounts of as much as $35 a barrel on prices before the war to lure India to lift more shipments.

Headline Brent prices have risen about $10 since then, implying an even larger reduction from current prices. Russia wants India to take 15 million barrels contracted for this year just to begin with.

The direct purchase is expected to involve Russia’s Rosneft PJSC and the Asian nation’s biggest processor Indian Oil Corp., which have an optional term contract — that’s rarely used — for close to 15 million barrels a year. It’s not clear what the upper end of the buying might be, but India is thought to have limited appetite for the grades being offered. (PTI)