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West has tried to ‘weaponize’ Russian oil – New Delhi — RT India

Indian Oil Minister Hardeep Singh Puri has told RT why his country is confident in cooperating with Moscow on crude imports

India has significantly ramped up purchases of Russian crude since the start of the Ukraine conflict and will continue buying as long as prices are favorable, Indian Oil Minister Hardeep Singh Puri told RT on the sidelines of India Energy Week on Thursday.  

According to Puri, while Russian oil accounted for just 0.2% of India’s total imports before February 2022, the figure currently stands at 30%-34%. “Imports of crude oil are the biggest item in our import basket. And equally, the export of petroleum products is the biggest item in our export basket. We will import from wherever we can, and we will export to wherever we can,” the minister explained.   

At the same time, Puri stressed that many countries, including those who have supported US-led sanctions against Moscow, continue to purchase commodities from Russia. “[Some countries] decided to weaponize [oil] – for ideological reasons. Well and good. They didn’t stop all imports. They stopped crude oil imports, but they are continuing to import gas [from Russia]. They are continuing to import other critical minerals,” the minister pointed out.  

India snapped up an average of 1.75 million barrels of Russian crude per day in 2023, according to Kpler data analyzed by The Independent. Meanwhile, the European Union’s imports of refined oil from India also grew to record levels last year, meaning consumers likely received unprecedented volumes of oil products that originated from Russia via India, the outlet noted.   

Asked about India’s crude oil imports from Russia hitting a 12-month low in January, Puri insisted that “there is no such clock” and that the decision to buy or not to buy rests primarily with companies, private or government, that import oil and are driven by pricing dynamics.   

Puri is among several top officials in the Narendra Modi cabinet who maintain that India’s continued purchases of Russian crude are driven by “pragmatism,” despite increasing scrutiny from the collective West. Speaking at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos last month, the minister argued that India has a large population to consider and that the government has to ensure millions of people are fed three times a day.   

Meanwhile, India has not only increased oil imports from Russia, but also continues to invest in Russian oil and gas projects. In 2009, Indian Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Videsh (OVL) acquired the UK-based Imperial Energy Corporation, which operates in Russia, for $2.1 billion. OVL also holds a 26% stake in the Suzunskoye, Tagulskoye, and Lodochnoye fields, collectively known as the Vankor cluster in Siberia, and a 20% stake in the Sakhalin-1 oil and gas field in the Russian Far East. A consortium of several Indian companies holds a 23.9% stake in the same project.  

Earlier this week, the chairman and managing director of state-owned energy firm Oil India Limited, Ranjit Rath, said the company is interested in joining new oil projects in Russia and is assessing opportunities while carrying out due diligence.

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