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India's Oil Imports From Russia Fell In August

India's crude oil imports from sanctioned Russia fell in August to a seven-month low, according to Kpler and Refinitiv data.

India's refiners reduced their crude oil intake from Russia partially due to routine refinery maintenance—but also due to decreased discounts on Russian grades. Meanwhile, India's crude oil imports from Saudi Arabia rose to a multi-month high, the data shows.

India's August Russian crude oil imports fell by about 20% from July levels to 1.5 million bpd—and down from 2.2 million bpd in June. Saudi Arabia's crude oil imports rose by 63%.

"Imports of Russian oil are likely to remain at subdued levels for a couple of months due to lower discounts, and that would force suppliers of Russian oil to provide deeper discounts," Refinitiv analyst Ehsan Ul Haq said on Thursday.

One refinery source told Reuters that discounts on Russian oil for October loading are now less than $5 per barrel. That same source also said that the refinery has yet to place an order for Russian crude oil for October loading.

The discounts for Russian crude oil are small enough now that it is becoming difficult to find Russian crude for less than the $60 price cap imposed by Western sanctions—a reality that could give India pause in those imports.

In early August, the price of Russia's flagship Urals blend delivered to the west coast of India hit $81 per barrel. Just a month earlier, that price was around $68. Earlier this month, however, Bloomberg suggested that India's purchases of Russian crude hadn't slowed down because it was still cheaper than Middle Eastern crude grades.

Last year, Russian exports of crude oil to India rose tenfold from the previous year, the Indian Bank of Baroda reported earlier this year.

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This year, shipments of Russian crude to the subcontinent remained strong, putting Russia at the number-one spot as oil supplier to India, replacing Saudi Arabia.

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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