India made it clear on Thursday that it will continue to investigate all possible sources of oil imports, indicating that Russia is one such destination and pointing out that Europe continues to buy oil from Russia.

The statement comes after the United States said on Tuesday that India would not violate US sanctions by buying Russian oil at a discount, but added that such a move would put the world’s largest democracy on the “wrong side of history”.

MEA spokesman Arindam Bagchi said it is “always exploring opportunities” in global energy markets as its oil needs are met through imports.

When asked whether India plans to import more oil from Russia, Bagchi said almost all of India’s energy needs are imported and the country is always exploring new options that indicate Russia is one such destination.

The MEA spokesperson pointed out that a “number of countries import energy from Russia, especially in Europe. I’ll leave it at that.” Europe has made it clear that it will continue to buy oil and gas from Russia for the time being, with Germany, Europe’s largest economy, even pointing out that any move to stop buying Russian energy will affect its economy.

“India imports most of its oil needs. So we are always exploring all possibilities in the global energy markets because of the situation where we are importing our oil needs…” Bagchi said during a media briefing when asked if India buys crude oil from Russia.

The Indian government is trying to secure the oil supply from Russia at a discount. Indian Oil Corporation bought three million barrels of Russian crude oil, the first transaction since the Russian military action in Ukraine. Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) has also bought two million barrels of Russian crude after the IOC’s move. Both have bought Russian Ural oil through the European trader Vitol. Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals (MRPL) also plans to buy a million barrels of the same crude.

Last Friday, India and Russia held a detailed dialogue about current and potential joint projects in the fuel and energy industry and possible mechanisms for transactions. This was discussed during a telephone conversation between Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak and Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri.

One may recall that Puri visited Vladivostok for the 2021 edition of the Eastern Economic Forum. Energy emerges as a major pillar of Indo-Russian ties post-defense. India’s cumulative investment in oil and gas projects in Russia exceeds $15 billion. It is the largest destination of Indian overseas investment in the oil and gas sector. In 2020, Indian Oil Corporation had signed a deal with Rosneft for the annual purchase of 2 million tons of crude oil. This was the first-ever annual oil purchase agreement between the two countries. Russian oil giant Rosneft and its partner bought Essar Oil, renamed Nayara Energy, in 2017 for $12.9 billion. Gazprom has shipped LNG to India under a 20-year contract.

This post MEA puts oil imports from Russia on the radar

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