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NEW DELHI: India’s July crude oil imports from Russia dipped for the first time in nine months, while inbound shipments from Saudi Arabia tumbled to their lowest in 2-1/2 years following OPEC+ cuts, tanker data from trade and industry sources showed.

Both China and India, the world’s biggest and third-biggest oil importers, cut imports from Russia and Saudi Arabia in July after prices rose and as the two oil producers reduced output and crude oil shipments.

Saudi Arabia volunteered to cut output by another 1 million barrels per day (bpd) from July through September, and Russia will reduce exports in August by 500,000 bpd, part of a deal among members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, a grouping know as OPEC+, to curb supplies and support prices.

India’s overall imports also declined 5.2% from June to 4.4 million bpd oil in July, the data showed, as several refining plants are shut for maintenance during monsoon season.

Russian oil imports declined 5.7% to 1.85 million bpd and Saudi shipments fell by 26% to 470,000 bpd, the data showed. India imports more than 80% of its overall oil needs.

Indian refiners that have been diversifying their oil import sources to cut costs began snapping up Russian oil at a discount as some Western companies stopped purchasing from Moscow following its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

India’s import of Russian oil may now decline further in August and September, however, as refiners plan maintenance at their plants and as Russian crude prices are above the $60-a-barrel ceiling imposed by the European Union and G7 economies after spot discounts shrank, sources said.

Russia was still the top oil supplier to India in July, though, followed by Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

Despite a cut in imports from Saudi Arabia, the share of OPEC oil in India’s July crude diet rose to its highest since March on higher intake of oil from Iraq, the United Arab Emirates and Nigeria, the data showed.

In April-July, the first four months of this fiscal year, OPEC’s percentage share of India’s imports held at its lowest for at least the last 22 years.

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