NEW DELHI: Reliance Industries, operator of the world’s largest refining complex, is snapping up Russian refined fuels, including rare purchases of naphtha, after some Western buyers stopped Russian imports, trade flows data from Refinitiv showed.
Western sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine have led to an emergence of rare trade routes for Russian crude and refined products that were mainly sold to European countries. India imported about 410,000 tonnes of naphtha, used for making petrochemicals, in Sept-Oct, the Refinitiv data showed.
Of this figure, Reliance received about 150,000 tonnes from the Russian ports of Ust-Luga, Tuapse and Novorossiysk during the two months, the data showed.
The private refiner did not buy Russian naphtha in 2020 and 2021. Its annual imports of Russian naphtha were restricted to just one parcel in four years to 2019, the data showed.
The data showed a panamax carrier Okyroe sailing towards India laden with about 59,000 tonnes of Russian naphtha.
“With European countries shutting down Russia, they need to find outlets for their naphtha,” a trader based in India said, referring to Russian firms.
Russian naphtha is being sold at lower premiums to countries like India, two Asian naphtha traders said. Reliance, its two plants together capable of processing 1.4 million barrels of oil a day, has emerged as a key buyer of Russian oil since Moscow’s February military action in Ukraine.
It also buys straight run fuel oil from countries, including Iraq and Russia, to process at cokers in the two refineries in the western Indian state of Gujarat to boost refining margins.
Reliance’s fuel oil imports from Russia have surged to a record 3 million tonnes since the beginning of this fiscal year in April, versus about 1.6 million for all of 2021/22, Refinitiv data shows.
Reliance is expected to receive about 409,000 tonnes of fuel oil in December, the data showed. Reliance did not respond to emails seeking comments.