According to data obtained from trade and industry sources, OPEC's annual share of India's crude imports fell to its lowest level ever in 2023, while discounted Russian barrels surged to an all-time high.
India, the world's third-largest oil importer and consumer, has long relied on nearby Middle Eastern nations to meet the majority of its oil needs in order to reduce freight costs. According to data, India imported nearly equal amounts of oil from OPEC members and non-members last year.
The South Asian nation imported an average 4.65 million barrels per day (bpd) oil in 2023, up 2% from the previous year. OPEC's share in India's crude oil diet plunged to about 49.6% in the first nine months of this fiscal year from April compared with 64.5% a year earlier, the data show.
Altered trade flows due to geopolitical tensions and costlier shipments from some traditional suppliers have expedited India's efforts to diversify its import sources and tap cheaper supplies from even far flung areas such as Russia. Imports of Russian oil accounted for about 36% of India's total crude purchases in 2023 at 1.66 million bpd, the data showed. In 2022, India imported an average 651,800 bpd Russian oil, the data shows.
Discounted Russian oil also curtailed India's intake of Middle Eastern oil to the lowest level ever, the calculations show. Russian oil became cheaper for India as western nations shunned purchases from Moscow in retaliation for its invasion of Ukraine.