Russian oil supplies to India hampered as Moscow refuses to be paid in rupees
logistics | Oil Gas | SupplyChain | transport
Par Ibrahima DIALLO
13 December 2023 / 12:37

India, the second largest consumer of oil from Russia, is reluctant to pay for its purchases in yuan, the currency of its Chinese rival.

India's rush for Russian oil gets more complicated. While the oil tanker NS Century, sanctioned by Washington, has been waiting off the Indian coast since late November for the green light from New Delhi to dock, payment problems are hampering deliveries. According to Reuters and Bloomberg, citing unnamed sources, Russia refuses to be paid in rupees, while India is reluctant to pay for its purchases in yuan, the currency of its rival China.

Western sanctions imposed on Russia in February 2022 have turned the hydrocarbon supply map upside down, making the sea route to India a lifeline for Russian majors.

Faced with the withdrawal of European buyers, Lukoil, Rosneft, Gazprom Neft and Surgutneftegas now sell a large proportion of their crude to Indian refiners: 60% of Russian oil transported by sea goes to India, making the country the world's second largest consumer after China.

However, this lucrative business faces a major challenge: payment. Excluded from the international banking system, Russia has had to abandon commercial transactions in dollars and euros. According to Reuters, less than 10% of Russian production - some 9 million barrels a day - is currently sold in these hard currencies.

In April, several Russian banks, including Sberbank and VTB, were authorized by the Reserve Bank of India to open accounts to facilitate rupee payments.

Since then, Russian exporters have been accumulating rupees in accounts in India, where strict exchange controls are in force, but without knowing how to spend them. Between April and September, Russian exports to the country reached the equivalent of $30.4 billion (€28.1 billion).

Julien Bouissou  Marie Jégo le monde

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