MOSCOW : India will continue to buy crude oil from anywhere in the world, including Russia, to meet its energy needs, a top official said ahead of EU restrictions on Russian oil kicking in.
The executive body of the European Union has asked its 27-member countries to cap the price of Russian oil at $60 as part of the West’s attempt to squeeze Moscow’s oil revenues and limit its ability to wage war in Ukraine while keeping global prices and supplies steady.
“Unlike Iran and Venezuela, there are no sanctions on buying oil from Russia. So anyone who can arrange for shipping, insurance and financing outside of the EU can buy oil,” the official said.
The price caps are part of the EU’s plan to use its clout in insurance and shipping industries to crimp Moscow.
“We will continue to buy oil from anywhere in the world including Russia,” he said.
Under the price-cap system that kick-in from December 5, companies shipping Russian oil outside of Europe would only be able to access EU insurance and brokerage services if they sell the oil at or under $60.
“So for all practical purposes, if I can send a ship, cover insurance and devise a mode of payment, I can continue to buy oil from Russia,” the official said explaining how the mechanism works. “All options are on the table.”
India, the world’s third-largest crude importer after China and the United States, has been snapping Russian oil that was available at a discount after some in the West shunned it as a means of punishing Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.
From a market share of just 0.2 per cent in India’s import basket before the start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Russia’s share of India’s imports rose to 4.24 million tonnes, or nearly 1 million barrels per day, in October, taking a 21 per cent share comparable to that of Iraq and higher than Saudi Arabia’s share of around 15 per cent.
“Nobody is saying don’t buy Russian oil,” he said. “Russia is only one of the suppliers, not a majority supplier. Indian supplies come from 30 countries. We have the flexibility to source oil from any country and so we should not anticipate any disruption.”
Indian refiners have booked Russian oil cargoes for delivery after December 5.
Russia has threatened to refuse to sell its oil to anyone wanting to cap prices.
For Russia to keep oil sales going, it and its buyers need to use ships, insurance and financing outside the jurisdiction of the G-7.
The US is comfortable with Russia selling its oil outside of the cap but using non-Western shipping, insurance and banking services would likely be more costly.