India's crude oil imports rise in March on demand recovery

·3-min read
FILE PHOTO: A worker holds a nozzle to pump petrol into a vehicle at a fuel station in Mumbai

By Ashitha Shivaprasad

(Reuters) - India's crude imports rose about 4.2% in March to 19.03 million tonnes from a year earlier, government data showed on Monday, as consumption picked up in the world's third-largest oil importer after COVID-19 curbs were eased.

Crude imports for the month were also 8.2% higher from February, according to data from the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell.

India's fuel demand had scaled a three-year peak in March, with petrol sales hitting an all-time high, as demand rose and the market built up supplies ahead of expected price increases.

"The increase in imports can be attributed to demand recovery; COVID curbs have eased, there is pick-up in the industry and economy with schools, colleges and all opening," said Prashant Vasisht, vice president and co-head, corporate ratings at ICRA.

"Also, Indian companies, both from the private and public sector, are not shying away from buying and utilizing cheaper crude available from Russia."

India has bought more than twice as much oil from Russia since it invaded Ukraine as in the whole of 2021, at a time when Western sanctions have prompted many oil importers to shun trade with Moscow.

Imports of oil products rose 9% month-on-month, but were down 9.5% from 2021 at 3.62 million tonnes.

Exports of oil products climbed 10.9% from a year earlier and of the total 6.74 million tonnes exported in March, diesel accounted for 3.37 million tonnes.

India - Asia's third-biggest economy - holds surplus refining capacity and is a major exporter of refined fuels.

"A lot of European companies are opting not to buy Russian crude and refined products. And even before the war, there was a lack of stock levels of diesel in Europe. So, since there's healthy demand, it has lead to increase of product exports for India," ICRA's Vasisht said.

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 March Feb Jan March Feb Jan

IMPORTS 19.03 17.59 19.12 18.26 15.24 19.59

Imports:

2022 2022 2022 2021 2021 2021

March Feb Jan March Feb Jan

LPG 1.45 1.26 1.39 1.36 1.52 1.36

Petrol 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.13 0.08 0.12

Naphtha 0.09 0.09 0.09 0.03 0.10 0.05

Kerosene 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00

Diesel 0.01 0.01 0.01 0.01 0.02 0.07

Fuel Oil 1.05 0.94 0.82 1.11 0.79 0.38

All 3.62 3.32 3.43 4.00 3.36 3.05

Exports:

2022 2022 2022 2021 2021 2021

PRODUCTS March Feb Jan March Feb Jan

Petrol 1.60 1.22 1.08 1.29 0.88 0.89

Naphtha 0.79 0.44 0.51 0.80 0.55 0.60

Diesel 3.37 2.41 2.58 3.07 2.11 2.32

Fuel Oil 0.09 0.09 0.17 0.20 0.08 0.11

Jet Fuel 0.62 0.41 0.45 0.41 0.43 0.30

All 6.74 4.86 5.07 6.08 4.15 4.43

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 Bharat Govind Gautam and Ashitha Shivaprasad in Bengaluru; Editing by Edmund Blair and Aditya Soni)

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