Russian crude oil imports by China and India in May hit an all-time high as buyers gorged on discounted supplies, reducing demand for oil from the Middle East and Africa, according to preliminary assessments from ship trackers.
The jump in Russian supplies comes ahead of a meeting between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies including Russia on June 4.
Producers face some pressure to act to support Brent futures which have fallen 5% this week to about $73 a barrel despite an OPEC+ pledge in April to cut more output from May.
However, they are unlikely to deepen supply cuts at the Sunday meeting despite lower prices, four sources from the alliance told Reuters.
The world’s No. 1 and No. 3 crude importers and top buyers of Russian oil imported about 110 million barrels in May, data from Vortexa and Kpler showed, up nearly 10% from the prior month despite U.S. warnings against price cap evasion.