Russia Sanctions: India Profiting From Russian Oil Trade by Exporting Refined Petroleum

India is defying western sanctions to buy millions of barrels of discounted Russian crude oil, hiding their origin and exporting refined petroleum products with a big markup to make a huge profit. China has yet to increase its oil imports from Russia, according to news reports. Meanwhile, India's neighbors Bangladesh and Pakistan are abiding by western sanctions and paying much higher market prices to buy oil for their domestic needs, and hurting their people. Such double standards are not going unnoticed. 

India's Refined Petroleum Exports.Source: MarketWatch


India is importing large amounts of deeply discounted Russian crude, running its refiners well above capacity, and capturing the economic rent of sky-high crack spreads and exporting gasoline and diesel to Europe, according to MarketWatch.  “As the EU weans from Russian refined products, we have a growing suspicion that India is becoming the de facto refining hub for Europe,” said Michael Tran, global energy strategist at RBC Capital Markets, in a Tuesday note. Here’s how the puzzle pieces fit together, according to Tran:

"India is buying record amounts of severely discounted Russian crude, running its refiners above nameplate capacity, and capturing the economic rent of sky-high crack spreads and exporting gasoline and diesel to Europe. In short, the EU policy of tightening the screws on Russia is a policy win, but the unintended consequence is that Europe is effectively importing inflation to its own citizens. This is not only an economic boon for India, but it also serves as an accelerator for India’s place in the new geopolitically rewritten oil trade map. What we mean is that the EU policy effectively makes India an increasingly vital energy source for Europe. This was historically never the case, and it is why Indian product exports have been clocking in at all-time-high levels over recent months". 

Bangladesh and Pakistan are afraid to buy Russian oil for fear of western sanctions while American ally India feels free to do so. As Pakistani Finance Minister Miftah Ismail told CNN's Becky Anderson in an interview, “It is very difficult for me to imagine buying Russian oil. At this point I think that it would not be possible for Pakistani banks to open LCs or arrange to buy Russian oil". Similarly, Bangladeshi Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told journalists: “You are seeing that they (western nations) keep bossing us and you (journalists) also encourage them. Every day, they come up with new issues. We used to call them development partners. They do not pay for the development but keep giving advice.” “We do not want to get into any problem. We want peace in the world,” Momen added. 

The West, particularly the United States, is turning a blind eye to India's actions when it comes to busting sanctions on Russia. Indian Prime Minister Narendra is openly funding the war in Ukraine by buying weapons and oil from Russia. At the same time, India's smaller neighbors feel intimidated by the threat of western sanctions if they follow Modi's example. Such double standards are not going unnoticed. 

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Comment by Riaz Haq on June 25, 2022 at 4:06pm

India's Russian coal purchases spike despite sanctions

https://www.reuters.com/markets/commodities/exclusive-indias-russia...


India's Russian coal buying May 27-June 15 up 6-fold-govt data
India's Russian oil buying May 27-June 15 up 31-fold-govt data
June Russia coal imports seen at multi-year high - Refinitiv
Bulk shipments of Russian thermal coal began third week of May


India's purchases of Russian coal have spiked in recent weeks despite global sanctions on Moscow, as traders offer discounts of up to 30%, according to two trade sources and data reviewed by Reuters.

Russia, facing severe Western sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine, warned the European Union in April against sweeping sanctions on coal, saying they would backfire as the fuel would be redirected to other markets.

India has refrained from condemning Russia, with which it has longstanding political and security ties, while calling for an end to violence in Ukraine. New Delhi defends its purchases of Russian goods as part of an effort to diversify supplies and argues a sudden halt would jack up world prices and hurt its consumers.

U.S. officials have told India there is no ban on energy imports from Russia but they do not want to see a "rapid acceleration".

Yet as European importers shun trade with Moscow, Indian buyers are lapping up huge quantities of Russian coal despite high freight costs.

Its purchases of coal and related products jumped more than six-fold in the 20 days through Wednesday from the same period a year earlier to $331.17 million, according to unpublished Indian government data reviewed by Reuters.

Indian refiners similarly have snapped up cheap Russian oil shunned by Western countries. The value of India's oil trade with Russia in the 20 days through Wednesday jumped more than 31-fold to $2.22 billion, the data showed.

India's trade ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday.

"The Russian traders have been liberal with payment routes and are accepting payments in Indian rupee and United Arab Emirates dirham," one source said. "The discounts are attractive, and this trend of higher Russian coal purchases will continue."

COAL BUYING TO CONTINUE
Offshore units of such Russian coal traders as Suek AG, KTK and Cyprus-based Carbo One in places including Dubai and Singapore offered discounts of 25% to 30%, triggering bulk purchases of Russian thermal coal by traders supplying to utilities and cement makers, the sources said.

The second source said the Singapore-based unit of Suek was also accepting payments in dollars.

Suek and KTK did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Reuters could not immediately reach Carbo One.

The EU ban has barred new coal contracts and by mid-August will force members nations to terminate existing ones.

India bought an average $16.55 million of Russian coal a day in the three weeks through Wednesday, more than double the $7.71 million it bought in the three months after Russia's Feb. 24 invasion, according to Reuters calculations.

Oil purchases averaged $110.86 million a day in the 20-day period, more than triple the $31.16 million it spent in the three months ended May 26.

Indian bulk buying of Russian coal is set to continue, with June imports expected to be the most in at least seven and a half years, Refinitiv Eikon ship tracking data showed.

Bulk shipments of Russian thermal coal started reaching India in the third week of May, with orders mainly from cement and steel firms and traders, according to shipping data compiled by an Indian coal trader.

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 29, 2022 at 8:56pm

Sanctions-Ravaged Russia Offers Opportunities for Indian Firms
Putin says Indian retailers in talks to open stores in Russia
India has already been snapping up cheap Russian crude oil

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-06-30/sanctions-ravage...

June 29, 2022 at 8:00 PM PDT


Indian companies are looking to bolster their operations in Russia, eyeing the opening left by the exodus of European, American and Japanese companies after the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

From drugmakers to consumer good firms, a number of Indian companies are either bagging new projects or are gearing up to pitch for more contracts as Moscow seeks fresh partners and vendors to fill the void. Indian retailers are also in talks to open stores in Russia, President Vladimir Putin told a BRICS business forum last week.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 14, 2022 at 6:28pm

#India under spotlight for 'laundering' Russian #oil. #US officials believe #Russian crude is being refined in #India and then exported to US & #Europe, circumventing #sanctions that have been imposed on Russia for its invasion of #Ukraine.- Nikkei Asia
https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Energy/India-under-spotlight-for-l...

U.S. State Department Senior Adviser for energy security Amos Hochstein said in a Senate hearing on June 9 that he advised Indian officials to refrain from buying Russian oil. "I would ask two things. One, don't go too far. Don't look like you're taking advantage of the pain that is being felt in European households and the United States. Second, make sure you negotiate well, because if you don't buy [the oil], nobody else [will]," he said.

While it is difficult to identify the source of crude once it has been processed, the numbers tell their own story. According to financial information provider Refinitiv, nearly 24 million barrels of Russian crude oil arrived in India in May, more than eight times the amount a year earlier. In June, the number remained high at more than 20 million barrels.

Imports of Russian oil have surged since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine in February. Sales in India are estimated at close to $1.9 billion in May alone, making it an important source of income for Putin's government.

Around 26 million barrels of Russian oil are believed to have arrived in Sikka alone between April and June, 5.3 times more than the level a year earlier. Russian oil comprises 20% of the total delivered to Sikka via sea.

India processes crude oil into exports such as gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel. Oil products exported from the port in Sikka totaled around 75 million barrels in the April-June period, with 20% going to Europe or the U.S.



"Oil is not separated and stored in different tanks by source," said an employee at a major Japanese oil wholesaler. "It's almost impossible to precisely locate where imported oil is from."

Reliance Industries declined to comment on the allegations that Russian crude oil might be getting mixed in with raw materials for petroleum products exported to the West.

Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar was more dismissive, saying, "Not even heard about anybody in India thinking along the lines of [buying Russian oil and selling it to somebody else]" at the GLOBSEC 2022 Forum in Bratislava on June 3.

Urals crude is $30 to $40 cheaper per barrel than benchmark Brent crude oil, which is particularly attractive to India, given its concerns over its trade deficit.

China, too, has increased imports of Russian crude by a significant 55% in May from a year ago, according to Reuters. It appears that China is buying undervalued Russian crude oil and gas for its own consumption and to add to what it has been buying from Europe and other countries.

While Russian crude exports are expected to decrease over the long term, purchases by China and India will support its prices.

Furthermore, the shift toward decarbonization has made it hard to invest in oil refineries, which in the short term is putting a squeeze on supplies and prices. Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, told German weekly Der Spiegel that a bottleneck may emerge for products including diesel oil, gasoline and paraffin in Europe.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 23, 2022 at 6:37pm

India is importing almost 3x as much fertilizer from Russia as it did pre-invasion. “Russia has emerged as the largest supplier of fertilisers to India during April-June this year… [I]mports from Russia were ‘10% cheaper’ than the prevailing prices.”

https://twitter.com/clary_co/status/1550995317864144896?s=20&t=...

In development that holds diplomatic significance and brings fiscal savings, Russia has emerged as the largest supplier of fertilisers to India during April-June (Q1, FY23) this year. India imported 7.74 lakh metric tonnes of fertilisers from Russia in the first quarter and this is more than a fifth of the total 36.4 lakh metric tonnes imported from across the globe, according to data shared by Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister Mansukh Mandaviya in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha on Friday.

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/fertiliser-imports-from-rus...

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 30, 2022 at 6:31pm

JPMorgan says #Russia has had no problem rerouting its #oil #exports from #Europe. Expects Russian production in Q3 to be higher than a year ago. Better-than-expected global production amid signs of a drop in #demand pushing oil #prices lower. #Ukraine https://africa.businessinsider.com/markets/jpmorgan-says-russia-has...

Russia has been able to reroute its oil exports away from Europe without serious disruptions, JPMorgan has said, adding that the expected drop in output "never happened."

Better-than-expected Russian production, along with the release of oil from global strategic reserves, helps explain the recent drop in crude prices, the bank's head of commodities research Natasha Kaneva said in a note to clients.

Russia's oil exports to Europe its biggest market have fallen relatively sharply in 2022, as companies have "self-sanctioned" in the wake of Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine in late February.

However, Russia has been able to shift its exports towards Asia, with India and China in particular stepping up their purchases. More recently, a jump in domestic demand has caused Russian oil production to rise back to prewar levels.

"The market consensus was too pessimistic about Russia's capability to re-route volumes to other buyers," Kaneva and her colleagues said in the note Wednesday. "Russia's exports adjusted towards other buyers without a serious disruption to its production."


"At its peak, the oil market was pricing in the worst-case scenario a 3 million barrel a day loss of Russian production combined with record-high summer demand while, in reality, it never happened."

JPMorgan expects Russia production to produce 9.95 million barrels a day of oil in the third quarter, above the 9.76 million barrels a day produced in the same quarter a year earlier.

It thinks production will slip to 9.5 million barrels a day in 2023, staying relatively strong despite the European Union's ban on most oil imports from the country.

Oil prices have fallen in recent weeks, with global supply stronger than expected and demand likely to weaken in the coming months as the world economy slows. WTI crude, the US benchmark price, was down around 10% over the last month to trade at $98 a barrel Friday.

Russia's oil and gas revenues have helped Putin's government prop up the local currency, the ruble, alleviating some of the pressure on the economy.

However, the economy is still expected to shrink sharply this year. Imports have cratered in a sign of domestic stress.

Yale academics, led by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, said in a study this week that Western sanctions are "catastrophically crippling" the economy, with domestic production slowing dramatically.

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 5, 2022 at 8:38am

#India turns to #Russian #fertilizer, showing challenge of isolating #Moscow over #Ukraine. Imports from Russia are up sharply and come on top of record shipments to India of discounted Russian #oil. #Ukraine️war #US #Modi #energy #inflation #economy https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/08/04/india-russia-fertil...

India has dramatically increased its imports of fertilizer from Russia in recent months, demonstrating the difficulties the United States and its allies face in isolating Moscow over the invasion of Ukraine.

From April to June, India imported 7.74 million tons of Russian fertilizer, a figure representing about two-thirds of all its fertilizer imports from Russia last year, making the country India’s top supplier, according to information provided in Parliament by the minister of chemicals and fertilizers, Mansukh Mandaviya.

These shipments, including urea and nitrogen-based fertilizers, come on top of record imports of discounted Russian oil. Although Persian Gulf countries remain India’s top suppliers of crude oil, India in July bought about 1 million barrels a day from Russia, a sharp increase since the beginning of the year, according to Bloomberg News. Government data shows that India spent $3.7 billion on Russian oil between January and May, up more than 350 percent from the same period last year.

As the war in Ukraine continues, so does the challenge Western countries face in seeking to stop Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military campaign without hurting the poorest in the world. U.N. Secretary General António Guterres recently warned that vulnerable countries would be on the verge of famine without Russian food and fertilizers.

“There is no option,” agriculture expert Devinder Sharma said of India’s increased fertilizer imports from Russia. “Agricultural production will come under stress without adequate fertilizer supplies.”

Unlike oil, fertilizer is not included in the U.S. sanctions placed on Russia because of the invasion.

For India, this year’s monsoon-season rice crop is crucial after a scorching heat wave in March damaged the country’s staple wheat crop and reduced yields. With food stocks depleted and the climate uncertain, India banned wheat exports this year, saying its food security was “at risk.”

The country has shied away from joining the Western coalition arrayed against Russia, initially because of its dependence on Moscow for weaponry and now because of concerns over energy and food security.

India’s imports of Russian coal and sunflower oil also have jumped. Overall, Russia has become the 10th-largest source of imports to India, according to data from the Indian Ministry of Commerce and Industry, ranking much higher than in previous years. Through May, India imported goods worth $8.3 billion from Russia, nearly triple the value for the same period last year.

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 13, 2022 at 7:33am

#US says #India hid #Russian origin of fuel shipped to the #UnitedStates. US Treasury Dept told India that an Indian ship picked up $oil from a Russian tanker on the high seas, brought it to a port in #Gujarat where it was refined and shipped to US. #Modi https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/us-says-india-hid-russian-o...

The United States has expressed concern to India that it was being used to export fuel made from Russian crude, through high-seas transfers to hide its origin, to New York in violation of US sanctions, a top Indian central banker said on Saturday

The US Treasury Department told India that an Indian ship picked up oil from a Russian tanker on the high seas and brought it to a port in Gujarat on the west coast, where it was refined and shipped on, said Reserve Bank of India Deputy Governor Michael Patra.

US sanctions on Moscow for its February invasion of Ukraine prohibit the import to the United States of Russian-origin energy products including crude oil, refined fuels, distillates, coal and gas.

"The refined output was put back on that ship and it set sail without a destination. In the mid-seas it received the destination so it reached at its course, went to New York," Patra said at an event to celebrate 75 years of India's independence.

The US embassy in New Delhi said it had no immediate comment.

Patra's comments are India's first official public reference to such U.S. concerns. Delhi has not joined the sanctions against Russia or condemned what Moscow calls a "special military operation" in its neighbour.

Patra said he was told the Russian crude was processed and converted into a distillate used for making single-use plastic. He did not identify the Indian vessel or refiner.

"The refined output was put back on that ship and it set sail without a destination. In the mid-seas it received the destination so it reached at its course, went to New York," Patra said at an event to celebrate 75 years of India's independence.

The US embassy in New Delhi said it had no immediate comment.

Patra's comments are India's first official public reference to such U.S. concerns. Delhi has not joined the sanctions against Russia or condemned what Moscow calls a "special military operation" in its neighbour.

Patra said he was told the Russian crude was processed and converted into a distillate used for making single-use plastic. He did not identify the Indian vessel or refiner.

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 17, 2022 at 8:37am

The United States has told India that an Indian ship was used earlier this year to export fuel made from Russian crude to New York through high-seas transfers, a top Indian central bank official said on Saturday.


https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/indian-sh....

The U.S. Treasury Department told India that an Indian ship picked up oil from a Russian tanker on the high seas and brought it to a port in Gujarat on the west coast, where it was refined and shipped on, said Reserve Bank of India Deputy Governor Michael Patra.

U.S. sanctions on Moscow for its February invasion of Ukraine prohibit the import to the United States of Russian-origin energy products including crude oil, refined fuels, distillates, coal and gas.

"The refined output was put back on that ship and it set sail without a destination. In the mid-seas it received the destination so it reached at its course, went to New York," Patra said at an event to celebrate 75 years of India's independence.

The U.S. embassy in New Delhi said it had no immediate comment.

Patra's comments are India's first official public reference to such U.S. concerns. Delhi has not joined the sanctions against Russia or condemned what Moscow calls a "special military operation" in its neighbour.

Patra said he was told the Russian crude was processed and converted into a distillate used for making single-use plastic. He did not identify the Indian vessel or refiner.

"So that's the way war works. It works in strange ways," he said.

India, the world's number 3 oil importer and consumer rarely bought Russian oil in the past. But since the war started, Indian refiners have been snapping up discounted Russian oil, shunned by many Western countries and companies.

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 1, 2022 at 7:01pm

#Biden's effort to isolate #Russia has a big problem: #India. India accounted for less than 1% of Russia's #oil exports prior to the invasion, but was up to 13% by July, helping to offset Russia's lost market share in #Europe. #UkraineRussiaWar #Modi #US https://www.axios.com/2022/09/01/india-russian-oil-military-exercises

Two global powers are undercutting Western efforts to isolate Russia and deplete the Kremlin coffers as they scale up purchases of Russian oil and join Russia this week in major military exercises.

Why it matters: One of those countries is China, which has moved closer to Moscow amid its confrontation with the U.S. The other, though, is India — one of Washington's most valued partners, which has taken a neutral position on Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

How it happened: The EU was by far the top destination for Russian oil prior to February's invasion of Ukraine, but EU countries have cut back their purchases and plan to end nearly all imports of Russian oil by year's end.

Even still, Russia's oil revenues are on track to jump by 38% this year, per Reuters. Asked about that projection this week, a White House spokesperson said it had made clear to countries that this is no time for "business as usual with Russia."
For China and India, it's been far beyond business as usual — they've both dramatically increased their purchases. India accounted for less than 1% of Russia's oil exports prior to the invasion, but was up to 13% by July, helping to offset Russia's lost market share in Europe.
Yes, but: That's due not to politics, but price. Prices from the Gulf have been sky-high, Russia is selling at a discount, and India is trying to keep inflation down and recover economically from the pandemic, Tanvi Madan of Brookings tells Axios.

Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar has called it an "obligation and moral duty" to get the lowest-possible energy prices for Indian consumers. Russia, meanwhile, has praised India for resisting Western pressure.
What to watch: To stop Russia from benefiting from the high oil prices that its invasion helped create, the White House wants to put a price cap on Russian oil. G7 finance ministers will discuss that proposal on Friday.

For it to be effective, they'll need India on board. U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo visited New Delhi last week and said he'd had "a very constructive conversation" with Indian officials on the cap.
India has thus far been noncommittal. It stands to benefit from lower prices, but will be wary of provoking Moscow — particularly considering its military's overwhelming reliance on Russian arms.

Zoom out: The long-standing military relationship between India and Russia is on display this week at the Vostok war games in Russia's far east, which will also include China and several other countries.

India's troops will be "full-fledged" participants, not just observers, a source briefed on the matter tells Axios. The source noted that India has taken part in similar exercises in the past but doesn't "always publicize it."
Asked about India's participation, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the U.S. "has concerns about any country exercising with Russia while Russia wages an unprovoked, brutal war against Ukraine."
Between the lines: She avoided any direct criticism of India and dodged a follow-up as to whether the U.S. has pressured India to stop helping Russia, as it has pressured China.

The Biden administration recognizes that India's long-standing relationship with Russia won't fade away overnight, and while it's trying to help New Delhi diversify its arms supply away from Russia, the U.S. priority is deepening coordination in the Indo-Pacific, Madan says.
The bottom line: India is too important to the U.S. strategy toward one top rival, China, to push back too hard as it undermines U.S. policy toward the other.

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 9, 2022 at 8:54pm

As the world lurches through the growing pains of massive geopolitical change, the US’ relationship with India will increasingly take center stage. Washington likes to see itself as providing a geopolitical center of gravity that is inherently attractive to nations like India, especially against regional competitors such as China. As the US is about to discover, however, India and China have a shared ambition about who should dominate the Pacific in the coming century, and it doesn’t include the US. Op Ed by Scott Ritter

https://www.energyintel.com/00000183-21d9-d467-adc7-21fdd54f0000

On Aug. 19, India’s minister of external affairs, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, gave a speech at a university in Thailand where he stated that relations between India and China were going through “an extremely difficult phase” and that an “Asian Century” seemed unlikely unless the two nations found a way to “join hands” and start working together.

For many observers, Jaishankar’s speech was taken as an opportunity for the US to drive a wedge between India and China, exploiting an ongoing border dispute along the Himalayan frontier to push India further into a pro-US orbit together with other Western-leaning regional powers. What these observers overlooked, however, was that the Indian minister was seeking the exact opposite from his speech, signaling that India was, in fact, interested in working with China to develop joint policies that would seek to replace US-led Western hegemony in the Pacific.

Struggle for Leadership

More than six decades ago, then-US Senator John F. Kennedy noted that there was a “struggle between India and China for the economic and political leadership of the East, for the respect of all Asia, for the opportunity to demonstrate whose way of life is the better.” The US, Kennedy argued, needed to focus on providing India the help it needed to win that struggle — even if India wasn’t asking for that help or, indeed, seeking to “win” any geopolitical contest with China.

Today, the relationships between the US, India and China have matured, with all three wrestling with complex, and often contradictory, policies that are simultaneously cooperative and confrontational. Notwithstanding this, the US continues to err on the side of helping India achieve a geopolitical “win” over China. One need only consider the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or “Quad,” conceived in 2007, but dormant until 2017, when it was resurrected under US leadership to bring together the US, Japan, Australia and India in an effort to create a regional counterweight to China’s growing influence.

There was a time when cooler heads cautioned against such an assertive US-led posture on a regional response to an expansive, and expanding, Chinese presence in the Indo-Pacific region. This line of thinking held that strong Indian relationships with Tokyo and Canberra should be allowed to naturally progress, independent of US regional ambitions.

These same “cool heads” argued that the US needed to be realistic in its expectations on relations between India and China, avoiding the pitfalls of Cold War-era “zero-sum game” calculations. The US should appreciate that India needed to implement a foreign policy that best met Indian needs. Moreover, they argued, a US-Indian relationship that was solely focused on China would not age well, given the transitory realities of a changing global geopolitical dynamic.

The Asian Century

The key to deciphering Jaishanker’s strategic intent in his Thailand comments lay in his use of the term “Asian Century.” This echoed the words of former Chinese reformist leader Deng Xiaoping, who, in a meeting with former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1988, declared that “in recent years people have been saying that the next century will be the century of Asia and the Pacific, as if that were sure to be the case. I disagree with this view.” Deng went on to explain that unless China and India focus their respective and collective energies on developing their economies, there could, in fact, be no “Asian Century.”

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