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India looking to raise oil imports from Russia – oil minister

India is looking at raising oil imports from Russia, its oil minister said, at a time of surging oil prices after an attack on Saudi Arabian facilities halved the kingdom’s production.

Dharmendra Pradhan said he had met the chief executive of Russian oil major Rosneft, Igor Sechin, and that four Indian companies planned to increase their investment in Russia’s oilfields.

The oil minister also attempted to calm nerves on supplies, saying he was confident that India, the world’s third-largest oil consumer, had a diverse crude basket.

Saudi Arabia is the world’s biggest oil exporter, and the second-largest supplier of crude to India after Iraq. India reduced the Middle East’s share in its total oil imports to about 56% in July from around 60% a year ago, while increasing its share of imports from Africa and the United States.

“Today I met excellency Igor Sechin, CEO of Rosneft. We elaborately discussed the possibility of oil imports,” Pradhan told reporters.

When asked if India planned to export petroleum products to Saudi Arabia, Pradhan said such a situation had not arisen, adding that India was continuing to lift crude from the region.

Two sources briefed on state oil company Saudi Aramco’s operations told Reuters it might take months for Saudi oil production to return to normal. Earlier estimates had suggested it could take weeks.

“This incident is huge,” Pradhan said in his first press conference following the attacks on Saudi’s facilities.

“But yesterday we lifted oil, and today also we lifted oil,” he said, adding that in September had India lifted more than half the crude it had signed long-term contracts with Saudi Arabia for.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan; editing by Louise Heavens and Pravin Char)

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