NEW DELHI - India's oil imports from Russia rebounded in September after hitting a seven month low in August as prices fell against Middle Eastern oil, preliminary trade flow data from LSEG, Kpler and Vortexa showed.
India, the world's third biggest oil importer and consumer, also raised imports from Iraq while taking less Saudi oil, the data showed.
"Price competitiveness favours Russian crude and if the Indian refiners want to take term volumes from the Middle East, they seem to prefer Iraqi barrels as Basrah Medium continues to be some $2 per barrel cheaper than Arab Medium or Arab Light," said Viktor Katona, lead crude analyst at Kpler.
India imported about 1.55 million barrels per day (bpd) of Russian oil in September, 16% more than in August, while imports from Iraq increased by 17% to about 1.1 million bpd, LSEG data showed. Vortexa pegged imports of Russian oil at 1.52 million bpd, compared with 1.44 million bpd in August.
In contrast, India's imports from Saudi Arabia fell to about 676,000 bpd in September, dropping 10% from August, LSEG data showed. According to Kpler data, India's imports of Russian crude jumped back to 1.8 million bpd in September from less than 1.5 million bpd in August.
Kpler's Katona said India's imports from Russia would move closer to 2 million bpd mark once refiners complete maintenance turnaround of units by end-October.
Indian refiners mostly buy crude about two months ahead of processing. They mostly purchase Russian oil on the spot market, while largely relying on term contracts for Middle Eastern crude.
Discounts for September-loading Russian oil began to widen after Indian refiners slowed purchases in August.
Indian refiners have snapped up discounted Russian oil after Western nations imposed sanctions and stopped buying from Russia following its invasion of Ukraine in February last year.
(Reporting by Nidhi Verma and Mohi Narayan; Additional reporting by Arpan Varghese; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)