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NEW DELHI : Israel has emerged as top buyer of Indian petroleum products, with more than $1 billion worth of purchases in December, followed by the UAE, US and Togo. This comes as Russia continues to be the top source of crude oil for New Delhi as per official data.

From less than 3% in 2021, the share of Russian crude in the Indian crude basket has seen an exponential rise. As per S&P, Russia became India’s top crude supplier in November 2022, with the country receiving around 1 million barrels per day (b/d).

Israel and Togo have not been significant buyers of Indian petroleum products so far, but in December, Israel was the top buyer and the African nation was the fourth largest.

Exports of India’s petroleum products between April and December in the current financial year jumped 35% to $67.64 bn compared to $44.28 bn during 2021. The top importers so far in the fiscal have been the Netherlands, the UAE, US and Togo.

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Speaking on the growing trend of oil-rich countries in West Asia importing refined petroleum products from India, Kabir Taneja, fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, said: “Everyone knows that oil is easily available and cheap in West Asia. But what we have to understand is that oil extraction is available there. So what we are doing is that we are buying cheap oil from Russia among other countries of course. And the big refiners here are refining it into end -products such as diesel or petrol and shipping it off."

Imports by Israel in December saw a four-fold jump on a month-on-month basis as it crossed the $1 billion mark, commerce ministry data showed.

The country imported petroleum products worth $1.21 billion from India in December, against $297.68 million in November.

“So if the finished petroleum products is coming from India due to the base level prices Russia is offering then countries such as Israel or any country will pick up as most countries buy it based on the spot prices. So much depends on how the politics plays out. If the Russian oil that we are buying is cheap because of whatever OPEC+ does, countries will start buying from the cheapest option available," Taneja added.

India has seen aggressive procurement of its petroleum products including aviation turbine fuel (ATF) by countries which have traditionally not been significant buyers of Indian refined products.

Experts said that both high imports of crude oil from Russia and the export of petroleum products by India were set to continue despite the price cap on Russian oil imposed by G7 and European Union.

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