The United States, Britain and some other key oil buyers banned imports of Russian oil shortly after the invasion of Ukraine.
The European Union is finalising a further round of sanctions, including a ban on Russian oil purchases. Many European refiners have already stopped buying from Russia for fear of running afoul of sanctions or drawing negative publicity.
The low price of Russia’s oil -- spot differentials are about $29 less per barrel compared with before the invasion -- is a boon for many refiners as they face shrinking margins. The price is well below competing barrels from the Middle East, Africa, Europe and the United States.
India’s purchases of Russian crude have soared since the conflict’s start, rising from nothing in December and January to about 300,000 barrels a day in March and 700,000 a day in April.
The crude now accounts for nearly 17 percent of Indian imports, up from less than 1 percent before the invasion. Last year, India imported about 33,000 barrels a day on average from Russia, according to The New York Times.
State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid recently said Bangladesh is reviewing a Russian proposal to sell crude oil.
Momen visited India to attend a conference on river and discussed ways to import oil from Russia on the sidelines of the conference.
“We’ve discussed some things with India. For example, they are trying to resolve the energy problem. We said that we’re also dependent on energy, which has become a real problem,” he said on Monday after returning home.
“Russia has offered to sell oil and wheat to us, but we can’t do it out of fears of sanctions. We asked [India] how they did it [import oil from Russia]. They [India] said they have found some tricks,” Momen said.
He said he wanted to learn the tricks. “It was more of a friendly discussion.”
Momen, who had worked as a diplomat in the US for a long time, acknowledged it is difficult to dodge sanctions imposed by America and its allies.
“They [India] can manage because they are a big country. No one imposes sanctions on them. We’re a poor, small country. That is why they [West] seek to control us.”