Indian state refiners will buy 36% less oil from Saudi Arabia in May than normal, three sources said, in a sign of escalating tensions with Riyadh even after the Kingdom supported the idea of boosting output from OPEC and allied producers last week.
Energy relations between India, the world’s third biggest oil importer and consumer, and Saudi Arabia have soured as global oil prices spiked.
New Delhi blames cuts by the Saudis and other oil producers for driving up crude prices as its economy tries to recover from the pandemic.
State-run refiners have placed orders to buy 9.5 million barrels of Saudi oil in May, compared with the previously planned 10.8 million barrels, three sources said.
The refiners – Indian Oil Corp, Bharat Petroleum Corp, Hindustan Petroleum Corp and Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd – normally buy 14.8 million barrels of Saudi oil in a month.
The decision to place nominations for less oil was taken on Monday, within two days of a telephone conversation between Indian oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan and his Saudi counterpart Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman on Saturday, three sources said.
Contents of the conversation between the two ministers is not known.
No immediate comment was available from the Indian companies, Saudi Aramco or the Saudi oil ministry.