OIL & GAS

India’s March crude imports edge up but pandemic concerns loom

India’s oil imports in March rose from the previous month, buoyed by an upturn in economic activity that could take a knock again because of renewed lockdowns in the world’s third-largest crude importer.

Crude imports rose 7.3% from February to 18.26 million tonnes, data on the website of the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) showed, although imports were still down about 6.5% year on year.

Louise Dickson, oil markets analyst at Rystad Energy, said the small slide in imports year on year in March could be attributed to a surge in crude prices. “Indian oil demand recovery needs longer than 12 months to reach pre-pandemic levels,” she said.

Looking ahead, preliminary data showed Indian state refiners’ local fuel sales in April declined due to state-level restrictions aimed at stemming a rampant second wave of coronavirus infections.

India’s annual crude imports fell nearly 13% in the fiscal year 2020/21 to 198.11 million tonnes, its lowest in six years as refiners cut crude processing as COVID-19 destroyed fuel demand, data compiled by Reuters showed.

K. Ravichandran, deputy chief rating officer at ICRA, said imports in 2021/22 could match the previous year’s level or, in a worst case scenario, could see a marginal slide.

Source
Reuters
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