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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.