Russian steel is making its way to India and if trade sources are to be believed, a vessel Akson Serin, carrying around 24,000 tonnes of hot rolled coil (steel), has entered Indian waters already.

Ship tracking data accessed by BusinessLine show that the Panama-registered bulk carrier was moored near Mumbai as on Saturday afternoon. The ship started its journey from St Petersburg, Russia on June 25 and reached Egypt on July 11, where it was in port for over 10 hours. And from there, it left for Mumbai the same day (July 11).

The current shipment, from two Russian steel mills, has been reportedly paid for in alternative currencies to dollar or Euro, that is either in Dirham or Yuan. Orders have most likely been placed by some pipe-makers “or long product maker”, said sources. Details are still awaited.

Indian players — mostly merchant steel and secondary ones — were said to explore offers from Russian mills around May-end and June, after mills in the European nation offered “high discounts” of around ₹3,000-5,000 per tonne over the then Indian prices.

According to sources, Russian mills were frantically trying to sell their excess stock as a result of European Union sanctions. Around this period, they started using the distress sale strategy. Bookings are for 100,000-200,000 tonnes from buyers here, some of the Indian steel mills claim.

Incidentally, when most of the orders were placed, 8-10 weeks back, India’s benchmark HRC price was at around ₹65,000 per tonne approximately, which made the Russian offerings quite cheaper.

“However, it is very unlikely that there will be a flurry of orders from Russia,” said an Indian steel mill owner pointing out that rupee depreciation, a cumbersome process of Letter of Credits from banks and domestic steel prices coming down to the ₹59000-60,000 per tonne range have reduced the price advantage of Russian offerings.

As per latest data available with the Union Ministry of Steel, the country’s imports are up by 2 per cent for the first three months of the fiscal (April-June) to 1172,000 tonnes — up from the 1158,000 tonnes it imported in the same period last year.