MOSCOW - India is taking most of Russia's Urals crude oil loading in December as it remains top buyer for a second month in a row, according to traders and Refinitiv data.
Volumes and India's share of the exports are expected to rise month on month despite a shorter loading plan for Russia's Western ports, traders said.
In November India accounted for about 53% of the total tanker shipments of the grade - the highest level on the record.
India's share may exceed 70% of total loadings in December, according to market participants.
The EU, G7 nations and Australia introduced the $60 per barrel price caps on Russian oil, effective from Dec. 5, on top of the EU's embargo on imports of Russian crude by sea.
India is buying the Urals crude at deeper discounts this month well below $60, four market sources said.
HANDFUL OF BUYERS
Russian Urals used to be one of Europe's favourite grades due to short trading cycle, cheap shipping and attractive refinery yields. The blend was purchased on a regular basis by dozens of countries across the globe.
This month the number of countries buying may fall to just four, data from Refinitiv Eikon and traders show.
At least 2 million tons of the grade has already been sent to India, while market players expect the monthly volume to jump as more shipping data emerges.
Bulgaria, which was excluded from EU oil ban, may become the second largest destination for Urals crude in December with shipments of up to 800,000 tonnes.
Urals loadings bound for China remain low with only one Urals cargo of 140,000 tonnes sent as of Dec. 16, but traders expect more Urals supply to China to emerge this month.
Turkey, which actively bought Russian oil in 2022, has taken just one December cargo of 140,000 tonnes.
The destinations for at least one third of Urals parcels in December has yet to be identified, though traders expect most of them will end up in India.
(Reporting by Reuters; editing by Jason Neely)