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India's state refiner Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd. (BPCL) has started talks with Russia for a crude oil term contract despite Western pressure on the South Asian giant to place sanctions on Moscow amid the ongoing war in Ukraine. As Europe turns its back on Russian oil, India is set to keep importing high volumes of Russian crude, while China continues to snap up most of the Espo crude exported from the Kozmino terminal in Russia's Far East. "Urals have become attractive for discounts," said a senior BPCL executive, who declined to be named. “The discussions are at a very preliminary stage as of now. We are in the process of testing the crude, checking [the] limitation of the refineries, how much they can process, how much blending can happen. All our three refineries have [a] different setup, so there are different permutations and combinations being worked out,” said the executive. India's oil imports from Russia hit 850,000 b/d in June, a sharp surge from below 50,000 b/d, on average, in 2021 on the back of steep discounts. Those flows appear to be taking on a more permanent character, with some Indian refiners believed to be looking to sign semi-term contracts for Russia's Urals crude.

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