As Asian oil demand increases, Russian crude oil loadings from Baltic ports are on track for a 50% hike from December to January, Reuters reports, citing its own data combined with trader insights. Russian Urals and KEBCO crude oil loadings specifically from the ports of Primorsk and Ust-Luga will experience the increase, Reuters said, adding that the bulk of those loadings (some 70%) will head to India. In December, Russia loaded 4.7 million tonnes of Urals and KEBCO from the Baltic ports, Reuters said, citing Refinitiv data. Russia now accounts for approximately 25% of India’s crude purchases, while some sources put it closer to 30%. In December, we saw Indian imports of Russian crude increase past the 1-million barrel-per-day mark, and Reuters’ January calculations suggest that is set to rise further this quarter. According to the Telegraph India, India’s purchases of Russian crude have reached 1.7 million bpd so far in January. This is also how Russian crude continues to make its way into the United States. The U.S. is a major buyer of Russian oil refined by Indian refineries, specifically VGO–virgin gas oil. According to Kpler’s lead crude analyst, Viktor Katona, the U.S. is purchasing some 200,000 bpd of finished products from India’s Reliance. “The biggest destination country of Indian products is surprisingly the United States. And the biggest exporters into the United States are Reliance and Nayara,” says Katona. Katona also said India had cut back on buying from Saudi Arabia. Reuters reports that it is also increasing its physical purchases of Russian crude. At the same time, Bloomberg last week reported that overall Russian crude shipments from key export terminals dropped by 22% the previous week, though the four-week average for experts still hovered around 3 million bpd, which is in line with Q2 2022.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com