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Top Indian Refiner Seeks Buyers of U.S. Crude as Russian Shipments Rebound

India’s largest private refiner, Reliance Industries, has sought to resell U.S. WTI crude within weeks of buying it, anonymous trading sources familiar with the matter told Bloomberg, as signs have started to emerge that more Russian crude may have resumed heading to India.  

Last week, Reliance tried to sell WTI Midland for loading in May to other potential buyers in Asia, Bloomberg’s sources said.

Amid issues with payments and stricter U.S. sanctions on Russian crude exports, including sanctions on Russia’s state tanker fleet operator, Sovcomflot, Indian refiners have recently ramped up purchases of other grades similar to Russia’s Sokol. WTI Midland is one of these crudes, and India is set to import in April its highest oil volumes from the United States in 11 months.

It wasn’t immediately clear if Reliance’s attempt to resell the WTI Midland crude was linked with increased purchases of Russian Sokol, according to the traders who spoke to Bloomberg.

Before offering the U.S. crude, Reliance had also tried to sell in Asia cargoes of Murban crude from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) loading this month and next, Bloomberg’s sources said.

Russian crude is cheaper than alternatives as it is being offered at discounts in Asia, but Indian refiners are now said to be refusing to take Russia’s oil transported on vessels of the sanctioned Sovcomflot to avoid running afoul of the stricter enforcement of the U.S. sanctions on Russia.

Despite stricter enforcement of the U.S. sanctions against Russian oil exports, some tankers loaded with Sokol crude are near India signaling Indian ports as their destinations, vessel-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg showed earlier this month.   

After more than a year of gorging on cheaper Russian crude, Indian refiners began to avoid Sokol shipments at the end of last year and avoid taking delivery of crude loaded on Sovcomflot tankers. It now appears that some of the Sokol trade may have returned to India, via traders offering attractive discounts, refining sources have told Bloomberg.  

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By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on April 16 2024 said:
    I told you then and I am telling you again now that Russian crudes will always be India's first choice no matter what sanctions the United States and Western allies impose on Russia.

    India has never recognized Western sanctions and it isn't going to start recognizing them now or possibly ever. India is always on the look for a special bargain in the market and Russia's oil has always been one.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert

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