China pips India to become largest buyer of sea-borne Russian crude at deeply discounted prices


China pips India in buying Russian oil! India is no longer the top buyer of seaborne Russian oil. The country has been forced to reject some cargoes of sea-borne Russian oil because of sanctions. China is now lapping oil from Russia at deeply discounted rates.
In March, China outpaced India in importing Russian crude by sea, receiving 1.82 million barrels daily compared to India’s 1.36 million, as per Vortexa, an energy cargo tracker cited in an ET report.
China receives Russian oil via pipelines. India’s monthly imports of seaborne Russian crude surpassed China’s for approximately eighteen months. However, in February, China’s imports from Russia marginally exceeded India’s at 1.3 mb/d compared to India’s 1.27 mb/d. In March, the gap between the two widened significantly.
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Indian refiners rejecting Russian Sokol cargoes, fearing that they were loaded on sanctioned vessels, led to China’s surge in purchases at heavy discounts. The stricter enforcement of sanctions on Russian ships resulted in rejections by Indian refiners.
A senior government official highlighted the challenge of paying for Russian oil carried by sanctioned ships, citing potential difficulties for Indian banks involved in such transactions. “Any Indian bank involved in paying to a sanctioned entity can attract secondary sanctions,” the official said.
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Despite this, India’s imports of Russian oil saw a 7% month-on-month increase in March. This rise indicates a growing preference for discounted barrels, especially with the benchmark Brent reaching $89 per barrel. An industry executive noted that if prices continue to climb, India’s demand for Russian oil is likely to increase even more.


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