In an unprecedented move that has caught the attention of many, Bharat is set to embark on a unique venture by importing crude oil from Venezuela, and the twist in the tale lies in the substantial discounts attached to this deal. The decision to import Venezuelan crude at a significant markdown comes as a strategic maneuver in the global oil market, driven by complex dynamics and economic realities.
The driving force behind this unconventional shift can be traced back to the recent scenario in the oil industry. Coker complexes, vital components of oil refineries, have been operating at full tilt, and sometimes even beyond capacity, in recent times. This phenomenon can be largely attributed to the increased processing of cheap, high-sulfur Russian Urals crude oil. As a result, there has been limited room available for Venezuelan crude grades, as pointed out by Sumit Ritolia, a refinery economics analyst at S&P Global.
The report further emphasizes that there is unlikely to be a significant change in Venezuelan oil production capacity in the next six months. The state-run oil company, PDVSA, faces a dire financial situation, with little to no investment capital at its disposal, thanks to multiple sanctions, primarily levied by USA. Moreover, a substantial portion of the country’s oil-related infrastructure is in a state of disrepair. As a result, Venezuela’s current oil production capacity hovers around 750,000 barrels per day, with the potential to produce between 800,000 and 850,000 barrels per day.
BREAKING NEWS – India to now import crude oil from Venezuela at HUGE discounted price 🔥🔥
Venezuela is facing economic crisis and India will benefit from cheap oil. India can get huge discount of 20%. Win win for both⚡ Modinomics UNMATCHABLE 🔥 Russia is already sending oil… pic.twitter.com/ZCIcsw994o
What does this development mean for Bharat and its energy requirements? To put it simply, it translates to significant cost savings. Under normal circumstances, Bharat would procure oil at standard market rates or, at times, even at premium prices, depending on the source of supply. Previously, Bharat had found some respite through its deals with Russia, securing oil at a discounted rate, typically around 10 percent below the standard price, which equates to approximately $90 per barrel.
However, with Venezuela now in the mix, Bharat not only has an additional source but also a highly cost-effective one. The availability of discounted Venezuelan crude offers Indian refiners an attractive alternative, especially when the usual avenues are operating at maximum or overcapacity due to the influx of Russian Urals crude, as reiterated by Ritolia.
This move by Indian refiners may necessitate a reshuffling of their existing crude oil sources. Potential adjustments might involve revisiting the mix of imports from regions like the Middle East, as indicated by S&P Global’s economic analysis. It’s worth noting that India faced a significant financial burden in 2022, importing a substantial $15 billion worth of oil and gas from Qatar, highlighting the need for diversification and cost-effective solutions in the energy sector.
The immense benefits for Bharat
Bharat’s bold decision to import discounted Venezuelan crude oil emerges as a calculated and economically savvy maneuver, responding to the ever-shifting dynamics in the global oil arena. With a tightening oil supply scenario and surging energy demands, this strategic shift holds the promise of substantial cost savings and increased adaptability for Indian refiners, a move that could well redefine the landscape of the country’s oil imports in the near future.
However, the question that looms large is how much Bharat stands to gain from this bold move. To put it simply, it’s not going to be a one-way street for Bharat.
In the words of Sumit Ritolia, the refinery economics analyst at S&P Global, “If the refining economics would favor Venezuelan crude in the future, Indian refiners may need to displace crude from their existing sources, which might include Middle Eastern, Latin American, and US crudes.”
India has been actively diversifying its sources of oil imports over the past few years, and following February 2022, Russia emerged as the primary supplier of crude to India, thanks to its willingness to supply oil at discounted prices amid Western sanctions.
In the fiscal year 2022, Russian oil accounted for a mere 2% of India’s total oil imports. However, fast forward to fiscal year 2023, and it constituted approximately one-fourth of the 235.52 million tonnes of crude oil imported by India. Other major suppliers to India continue to be Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the US, and the UAE.
This diversification is particularly vital considering the context of India’s escalating oil demand. From January to September, India’s oil demand surged by 5.6% year-on-year to reach 171.34 million tonnes, or 4.9 million barrels per day. Over the same period, the demand for diesel and gasoline rose by 6.5% and 7.4% year-on-year, respectively. Furthermore, the demand for jet fuel saw a substantial 20.5% year-on-year increase, while naphtha experienced a 3.7% year-on-year uptick over the same period.
With the cost-effective alternative of Venezuelan crude now on the table, in addition to the advantages derived from the Russian deals, Bharat may find itself less dependent on oil supplies from the USA or the Middle East. The ability to process Venezuelan oil is well within the reach of Indian refiners, and the nation is poised to seize this opportunity, provided it continues to be available at a reasonable price.
In the words of Oil Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, “It is always good when more supplies come to the market,” referring to Venezuelan oil. He added, “We will buy from wherever we can get cheaper oil.” That, my friends, is the ultimate goal – securing a reliable and cost-effective source of oil to meet India’s surging energy demands while also reducing the country’s crude import bill.
Multiple targets hit with one deal!
Bharat’s strategic decision to import discounted Venezuelan crude oil represents a shrewd economic move and a savvy adaptation to the ever-evolving global oil landscape. It’s not just about securing a new source; it’s about hitting multiple targets with a single stone.
Firstly, as Hardeep Singh Puri pointed out, this move allows India to access cheaper and potentially more reliable alternatives. The benefits extend far beyond the immediate financial gains.
Secondly, it reduces India’s over-reliance on traditional oil sources such as the Middle East and the USA. Diversifying its sources of oil is a prudent step towards energy security.
Thirdly, it underscores India’s growing economic strength. Despite external pressures and potential threats, India continues to strengthen its economic position on the global stage.
The question arises: How is India able to make such a strategic move? For many naysayers, the answer lies in the fact that the USA has eased some sanctions on deals involving Venezuelan oil.
S&P Global Commodity Insights reports that India used to be a regular buyer of Venezuelan crude oil grades before the imposition of US sanctions. During the pre-sanctions period from 2017 to 2019, India imported around 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Venezuelan crude grades, with private refiners being the key buyers. These imports constituted about 5-7% of India’s total crude oil imports at that time, according to S&P Global data.
As Ha Nguyen, Executive Director of Global Crude Oil Markets at S&P Global Commodity Insights, explains, “On October 18, the US Department of the Treasury eased oil, trade, and financial sanctions on Venezuela. The ‘general license’ issued by the Treasury permits previously prohibited activities for a six-month period, which could be renewed if the Maduro government follows through on their political and electoral commitments. US oil companies are now allowed to begin to explore and advance investment in Venezuela.”
However, not everything needs to be spelled out explicitly. What many may not fully grasp, and some might not readily accept, is the way Bharat is skillfully leveraging its available resources and diplomatic influence.
It wasn’t so long ago that India faced intense scrutiny for striking a deal with Russia in the midst of the Russo-Ukraine clashes. There were attempts to coerce India into aligning with the West, particularly the USA. In response, India delivered a resounding “NO,” asserting its right to act in its national interests. Even the veiled threats from the USA gradually lost their potency as they came to realize the resolve of the nation they were dealing with.
In the grand scheme of global politics and economics, India’s strategic maneuvers in the oil market demonstrate a nation unafraid to chart its own path and protect its interests. This resilience and independence stand as a testament to Bharat’s evolving role on the world stage, where it actively seeks partnerships and opportunities that benefit its people and its prosperity.
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