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China imports maximum crude oil from Russia, leaving India behind

Utkarsh Classes Last Updated 08-04-2024
China imports maximum crude oil from Russia, leaving India behind Energy 5 min read

Energy cargo tracker ‘Vortexa’ released its report in the first week of April 2024. According to this report, China has overtaken India as the primary importer of Russian crude oil through sea routes.

What do the figures say?

  • In March 2024, China imported 1.82 million barrels per day (bpd) of Russian crude oil by sea. This was more than India's 1.36 million bpd. Additionally, China also receives Russian oil through pipelines.
  • India had been the major importer of seaborne Russian crude oil for about eighteen months. China's imports of 1.3 million bpd in February were slightly higher than India's 1.27 million bpd. Whereas in March 2024 this difference increased significantly.

Indian imports of Russian oil increased by 7 percent:

  • Despite this change, India's Russian oil imports increased by 7 percent month-on-month in March. This indicates a growing trend towards acquiring discounted barrels. Media reports suggest that India's Russian imports exceed those of other countries including Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
  • Total crude oil imports to India rose to 4.89 million bpd in March, according to Vortexa data. Whereas in February it was 4.41 million bpd.

India imports from these regions of Russia:

  • India has been the primary importer of Urals sour-grade oil from Russia along with other grades such as Varandi, Siberian Light and Sokol from Sakhalin.

India's traditional crude oil supplier countries:

  • Among traditional Middle-Eastern suppliers, India saw a substantial increase in crude oil supplies from Iraq in March 2024. Whereas at the same time imports from Saudi Arabia declined.
  • While Iraq supplied 1.09 million bpd of crude oil in March which is a big jump from last month's 76,000 bpd. Imports from Saudi Arabia stood at 76,000 bpd in March, down from 82,000 bpd in February.

India was the top importer of Russian crude for last 18 months: 

  • Due to various types of sanctions imposed on Russia by Western countries due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, many European countries started avoiding Russian oil. Taking advantage of this, India obtained a large amount of crude oil from Russia. India benefited from this in many ways. India was successful in meeting its energy needs with relatively cheap oil imported from Russia. There was a time when India had become one of the largest importers of Russian crude oil. Russia also became the largest supplier of crude oil to India.

India's reliance on Russian oil has grown amid conflict: 

  • India's increasing dependence on Russian crude oil stems from geopolitical tensions following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Before this conflict, Russia's share in India's total crude oil imports was only 0.2%.
  • The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, known as OPEC+, have continued to cut production to stabilize crude oil prices. The organization extended voluntary oil supply cuts by 2.2 million bpd into the second quarter of 2024.

Despite American pressure, India imported oil from Russia:

  • Despite pressure from Western countries, the Indian government has continued to buy oil from Russia due to India's significant demand for oil and Moscow's concessional offers.
  • In this context, Indian officials believe that this strategy has contributed to stabilizing global crude oil prices.


Answer: China

Answer: Energy Cargo Tracker ‘Vortexa’
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