By Nidhi Verma
NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Easing global oil prices would help India boost imports from Russia, a senior government official said on Friday, as a lower than $60 a barrel price of Russian oil will enable buyers to use Western services such as insurance and ships.
The Group of Seven large economies known as G7 and some other nations have imposed a ceiling of $60 per barrel for oil at Russian ports to cut Moscow’s revenue seen as funding its war in Ukraine.
Russia’s flagship grade Ural in Baltic ports has plunged since late November below that level, reflecting subdued global oil prices that are headed for a seventh straight weekly decline.
India, the world’s third biggest oil importer and consumer, emerged as the biggest buyer of Russian seaborne oil, shunned by the West over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine last year.
The United States last month imposed sanctions on maritime companies and vessels for shipping Russian oil sold above the G7’s $60 price cap, in an attempt to close loopholes in the mechanism designed to punish Moscow for invading Ukraine.
The three sanctioned vessels – Kazan, Ligovsky Prospect and NS Century – regularly supplied oil to India.
The Indian official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there would not be any impact on India’s intake of Russian oil due to Western sanctions on ships as enough vessels were available in the market.
He also said India buys Russian oil on delivered basis and refused to comment on the likely destination of NS Century.
NS Century was on its way to India when the sanctions were imposed. The vessel has since then floated near Colombo.
(Reporting by Nidhi Verma; Writing by Shivam Patel; Editing by Jan Harvey and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)