India's August crude imports fall m/m on monsoon demand lull

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FILE PHOTO: Oil tankers are seen parked at a yard outside a fuel depot on the outskirts of Kolkata

By Arundhati Sarkar

(Reuters) -India's crude oil imports fell more than 13% in August month-on-month, government data showed on Monday, as monsoon rains restricted activity and slowed consumption in the world's third-biggest oil consumer.

Crude oil imports last month fell to 17.55 million tonnes from July, data from the website of the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell showed. But, imports in August were up 0.9%, compared with the corresponding period last year.

Demand for industrial fuel such as diesel typically dips during monsoons because of factors including less mobility, and a decline in consumption in the irrigation sector, said Prashant Vasisht, vice president and co-head, corporate ratings at ICRA.

India received 3.4% more rainfall than average in August, especially in the central and southern parts of the country.

On a month-on-month basis, diesel imports dropped more than 94% last month to 0.01 million tonnes, while data showed earlier this month that diesel sales in August had dropped to their lowest this year.

"However, demand should revive going forward because of the festival and marriage season. That requires more transportation of goods," Vasisht added.

On a yearly basis, oil product imports rose 13.7% to 3.63 million tonnes in August, while exports climbed about 9%. Of the 5.23 million tonnes of exports in August, diesel accounted for 2.36 million tonnes.

Additionally, the expected seasonal decline in industrial output has also resulted in a gradual inventory build-up of crude oil with refiners over the last couple of months and led to a sharp decline in crude imports in August, said Hetal Gandhi, Director, CRISIL Research.

"With the crude oil production base primarily made of old declining fields, domestic crude oil production is expected to remain range-bound or decline marginally for the full year, thus resulting in a continued reliance on crude oil imports to meet demand," Gandhi added.

India, Asia's third-biggest economy, holds surplus refining capacity and exports refined fuels as well.

Meanwhile, separate data showed Saudi Arabia emerged as the second-biggest oil supplier to India after a three-month gap in August, overtaking Russia by a thin margin.

NOTE: The data for imports and exports is preliminary because private refiners share numbers at their discretion.

All figures are in millions of tonnes:

2022 2022 2022 2021 2021 2021

CRUDE OIL August July June August July June

IMPORTS 17.55 20.34 19.11 17.39 15.02 15.91

Imports:

2022 2022 2022 2021 2021 2021

PRODUCTS August July June August July June

LPG 1.58 1.43 1.31 1.70 1.42 1.39

Petrol 0.00 0.06 0.13 0.00 0.00 0.00

Naphtha 0.16 0.13 0.10 0.01 0.10 0.14

Kerosene 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00

Diesel 0.01 0.19 0.12 0.01 0.00 0.00

Fuel Oil 0.69 0.76 0.59 0.70 0.95 0.56

All 3.63 3.69 3.37 3.19 3.54 2.98

Exports:

2022 2022 2022 2021 2021 2021

PRODUCTS August July June August July June

Petrol 1.01 1.11 1.16 0.90 1.00 1.15

Naphtha 0.41 0.36 0.82 0.64 0.48 0.61

Diesel 2.36 2.18 2.45 2.60 2.26 2.83

Fuel Oil 0.22 0.19 0.13 0.16 0.30 0.20

Jet Fuel 0.75 0.58 0.59 0.32 0.34 0.49

All 5.23 4.68 5.50 4.80 4.70 5.51

NOTES:

Totals may not tally because all items are not included in the table and numbers are rounded up or down. The numbers for previous months have been revised.

(Reporting by Arundhati Sarkar and Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu, Uttaresh.V, Kirsten Donovan)