Govt slams West for demanding India shun Russian oil | India News – Times of India


NEW DELHI: Citing India’s energy needs, the government continues to strongly defend its deal with Russia for the purchase of 3 million barrels of crude at a discounted price. With disquiet running deep in the US and prominent European capitals over India’s decision, official sources speaking on condition of anonymity said “countries with oil self-sufficiency or those importing themselves from Russia cannot credibly advocate restrictive trading”.
Indian officials also said that India’s legitimate energy transactions should not be politicised.
The apparent dig at the US follows remarks by the White House cautioning India against placing itself on the wrong side of history by buying Russian crude. While India doesn’t violate US sanctions with its Russian oil deal, the purchase is still seen as a setback for the US in its efforts to, as a senior US official said recently, close the gap with India on the Ukraine issue.
The development also comes ahead of the India-US 2+2 dialogue which, after several false starts, is finally expected to take place in April 2nd week. While the US is trying to convince India that the Russian action in Ukraine will embolden China to act more aggressively in the neighbourhood, official sources said geopolitical developments have posed significant challenges to India’s energy security and that ” for obvious reasons” India has had to stop sourcing from Iran and Venezuela despite alternative sources costing a lot more.
India sees the jump in oil prices after the Ukraine conflict as adding to the challenges it’s already facing. “The pressure for competitive sourcing has naturally increased. Notably, recent Western sanctions on Russia have carved outs to avoid impact on energy imports from Russia,” said a source, adding that Russian banks acting as main channels for European Union payments for Russian energy imports have not been excluded from SWIFT payment system.
“Russian oil or gas is being procured by various countries across the world, particularly Europe. Seventy-five percent of Russia’s total natural gas exports is to OECD Europe (like Germany, Italy, France). European countries (like Netherlands, Italy, Poland, Finland, Lithuania, Romania) are also large importers of Russian crude oil,” said the source
“India has to keep focusing on competitive energy sources. We welcome such offers from all producers. Indian traders too operate in global energy markets to explore best options,” he added.
What seems to have irked the government is that Russia, unlike in the case of European countries, has been a very minor supplier of crude to India, accounting for less than 1 percent of its requirement and that there is no government-to-government arrangement for oil import from Russia.
Sources said most of the imports are from West Asia (Iraq 23%, Saudi Arabia 18%, UAE 11%). The US has also now become an important crude oil source for India (7.3%) and imports from the US are expected to increase substantially in the current year, probably by around 11%. “Its market share will be 8%,” said an official, adding that nearly 85% of India’s crude oil requirement (5 million barrels a day) has to be imported.


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