• Efforts on to put pressure on India for importing Russian oil amidst Ukraine conflict

    India’s import of oil from Russia has become a major irritant for certain constituencies in the United Kingdom and the United States, the two countries that are leading the charge against Russia with Ukraine in the war.

    As per official data, in March 2022 India was importing 0.4 million oil barrels a day from Russia, which now stands at 2.1 million a day, an increase of 425%.

    Sources in diplomatic circles told The Sunday Guardian that a sustained effort was going on to force India to stop it from buying Russian oil. These efforts were being made at multiple levels in London and Washington, including by trying to put pressure on the Rishi Sunak and Joe Biden governments to use their influence on Delhi.

    Members of Parliament, media houses and lobbying organizations are being involved in these efforts so that a public perception against India is built on “supporting Russia’s war on Ukraine”.

    To be sure, India, on multiple public forums, has stated that it wants the existing world order to be respected and war should cease immediately. Unlike countries like China and Pakistan, it has not supported any of the two sides despite pressures and pulls from various quarters.

    Sources told The Sunday Guardian that recently a fake narrative was pushed among UK’s parliamentarians that India was selling Russian oil to Britain at a premium.

    However, later it emerged that since December 2022, when the UK banned Russian oil from entering its territory, the import of oil from India by Britain has neither increased nor decreased.
    As per regulations in place in the UK, if Russian-origin oil is substantially refined in the importing country (India), and a new product is formed, then the UK companies, public and private, are allowed to buy the same.

    But, as data shows, India has not increased its oil export to the UK despite a substantial increase in imports from Russia. This suggests that this increased import was being used to add to India’s strategic oil reserves. These reserves are in place to cater to domestic demand in times of crisis, both man-made and natural.

    In February, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced that India would be purchasing Rs 50 billion worth of crude oil for its national strategic reserves. India’s strategic petroleum reserves get supplied from the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) under an agreement between ADNOC and the Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Ltd (ISPRL), signed in January 2017. The ISPRL is an Indian government-owned company mandated to store crude oil for the country’s emergency needs.

    These strategic crude oil facilities, that hold about 37 million oil barrels, are spread across four locations in India and can sustain at least 10 days of normal consumption, which is 4.7 million barrels per day on a normal day. India oil companies hold reserves for more than 60 days as per normal consumption rate.

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