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India Snaps up Record Amount of Russian Oil, Saudi Arabia Flows Plunge

  • Russia sold 1.96 million barrels of oil to India a day in May, notching a new record.
  • Meanwhile, oil flows from Saudi Arabia to India have plunged to a 28-month low.
  • Russia has surpassed Saudi Arabia as India’s largest crude supplier, thanks to hefty discounts on its oil. 

India snapped up a record volume of Russian oil last month, while flows from Saudi Arabia have fallen to their lowest level since 2021.

Russia, which surpassed Saudi Arabia as India’s top oil supplier in October last year, sold 1.96 million barrels of crude a day to India during the month of May, according to Vortexa data cited by Bloomberg. That’s around 15% higher than the 1.67 million barrels a day sold to India in April.

Saudi Arabian oil shipments, meanwhile, fell to their lowest level since February 2021, marking a 28-month low.

That’s largely due to ever-steeper discounts on Russian crude, which has led allies like China and India to ramp up Russian oil purchases tremendously. The average cost of Russian crude shipments was $68.21 a barrel in April, according to data from India’s Ministry of Commerce, marking the lowest price tag on Russia’s crude since the nation first invaded Ukraine. 

Saudi Arabia has bemoaned the amounts of cheap Russian oil making their way to market, as it pushes oil prices lower for all suppliers. Saudi officials complained to Russia as oil prices dipped below $81 a barrel, a key break-even level for sellers, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Some estimates show that Russia’s economy is also struggling as it sells energy commodities at a discount, with cheap crude sales driving energy revenues lower and deepening its budget deficit. The nation’s oil and gas revenue crashed nearly 50% at the start of 2023, Russia’s finance ministry reported, largely attributing the decline to lower prices for its main oil product as well as falling natural gas exports.

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