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MOSCOW: Mohammad Ali, Pakistan’s caretaker energy minister, said on Thursday that Islamabad was considering signing a long-term deal to buy between 0.7 million and 1 million tons (up to 20,000 bpd) of Russian oil per year, the TASS news agency reported.

The South Asian nation has started snapping up crude oil that Moscow discounted after its exports were banned from European markets over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Pakistan’s first cargo, imported by the government, arrived in June and a second government-to-government shipment is under negotiation.

Last week, Pakistan refiner Cnergyico imported the country’s first private-sector shipment of Russian crude oil.

Oil and energy make up the largest portion of Pakistan’s import bill and the country is struggling with a balance of payments crisis due to dwindling foreign reserves.

Grappling with high inflation and a foreign exchange crisis, Pakistan has also struggled with spot purchases of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) fuel after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year pushed prices to record highs, leaving the South Asian nation to face widespread power outages.

Earlier this month, Pakistan LNG Limited (PLL), a government subsidiary that procures LNG from the international market, awarded a tender to commodities trader Vitol for the delivery of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargo in December, making it the country’s first spot purchase in over a year.

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