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Russia squeezes Mideast, OPEC shares in India's oil market to historic lows

Bulk carriers sail in Nakhodka Bay

By Nidhi Verma

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Russia became the top oil supplier to India during the fiscal year 2023/24 for a second year in a row, squeezing the market share of Middle Eastern and OPEC producers to historic lows, ship tracking data from industry sources showed.

New Delhi has been gorging on Russian oil sold at a discount after Western nations shunned purchases and imposed sanctions on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine. As a result Russia is now the top supplier to the world's third-largest oil importer.

India has continued to buy Russian oil despite problems posed by a raft of sanctions aimed at reducing Moscow's oil revenue to fund the war.

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Russia is an ally of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) but it has eaten into the share of India's crude diet from key OPEC producers in the Middle East.

Russian oil accounted for about 35% of India's overall 4.7 million barrels per day (bpd) crude imports in the fiscal year to March 31 compared with about 22% a year ago, the data shows.

India imported 1.64 million bpd of Russian oil in fiscal 2023/2024, up about 57% from the previous year, the data shows.

That lifted the share of oil from Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), in India's imports to 39% in 2023/24 from 26% a year ago, the data shows. In contrast, the share of Middle Eastern oil in Indian imports fell to an all-time low of 46% from 55%.

Iraq continued to be the second-largest supplier to India followed by Saudi Arabia in 2023/24.

India imported an equal amount of oil from OPEC and non-OPEC nations for the first time in 2023/2024, the data showed.

The fall in Saudi oil imports followed higher official selling prices set by state-owned Saudi Aramco for most of the year, while imports from Kuwait have also dropped sharply after the producer diverted its crude to a new domestic refinery.

(Reporting by Nidhi Verma; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)