Asian countries scaled up Russia’s Urals oil blend import by 4.5 times in annual terms from March to May 2022, Rystad Energy experts said in their research.
"Based on the average of March to May 2022, Indian imports of Urals crude have picked up by 658% compared to 2021 levels, while for China the increase is 205% and for Asia as a whole 347%, Rystad Energy research shows," the company said.
"India has emerged as the significant Urals importer in the region, prompted by the crude’s attractive margin in relation to Middle Eastern grades, which have traditionally been the country’s staple," Rystad Energy noted. "With Urals having a similar profile to Middle Eastern oil grades and an advantageous lower sulfur content, Indian refiners have swapped Middle Eastern crudes in favor of Urals for their refinery processing. So long as the Urals discount is maintained, it will have a huge margin advantage over alternative crude grades, meaning Indian refiners are likely to maximize Urals imports," company’s experts said.
"Since European refiners started shunning Russian oil in late February, Russian crude oil imports to Europe saw a drop of 554,000 barrels per day (bpd) from 2.04 million bpd to 1.49 million bpd between March and May," the company noted. At the same time, "Russian-origin oil imports by Asian refiners (including China) saw a corresponding 503,000-bpd increase from the January-February 2022 average of 1.14 million bpd to a March-May average of 1.517 million bpd," Rystad Energy added.