As India and China compete for Russian ESPO crude oil in April, the prices soar.
According to industry sources, private Indian refiners are competing with independent companies in China for Russian ESPO crude oil, which has pushed up prices after Moscow reduced exports of its flagship grade Urals.
Typically, China buys all of the ESPO crude exported from the Pacific port of Kozmino due to its close proximity. However, for April, Indian refiners Reliance Industries Ltd and Nayara Energy have purchased at least five of the approximately 33 ESPO crude cargoes due to low prices.
Indian companies are using non-dollar currencies to settle payment for certain niche Russian crudes and avoiding the use of Western services and banks to avoid sanctions. This competition has narrowed discounts for April-loading ESPO shipments to about $6.80 a barrel against June ICE Brent DES basis to northern China from $8.50 a barrel last month for March-loading oil. In contrast, April-loading Murban crude is about $9 a barrel more expensive than ESPO delivered to China and India.