NEW DELHI: India imported a record 4.83 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil in September as several refiners resumed operations after extensive maintenance to meet rising local fuel demand.
The world’s third-biggest oil importer shipped in 4.2 per cent more oil last month than a year earlier and about 19 per cent more than in the previous month, ship-tracking data from industry sources and Thomson Reuters Analytics showed.
“There was heavy maintenance at some refineries in July-August. All those refineries have come online, so naturally refiners will have to boost purchases to meet local demand,” said Senthil Kumaran, senior analyst at energy consultant FGE. Maintenance turnaround at some refineries led to Indian Oil Corp deferring the shutdown of its 300,000 bpd coastal Paradip refinery to April-March.
During the first nine months of the year India’s oil imports rose 1.8 per cent to about 4.4 million bpd, with most supplies coming from the Middle East, followed by Africa and Latin America.
Indian fuel demand typically eases in the third quarter as monsoon rains hit construction, industrial activity and reduces consumption of transport fuels. That provides refiners with an opportunity to carry out maintenance.
Capacity addition is also driving up India’s oil imports.
The country added 170,000 bpd of capacity at plants owned by Bharat Petroleum Corp and HPCL-Mittal Energy, which are gradually ramping up crude runs.
India, which imports about 80 per cent of its oil needs, has emerged as a key driver for growth in global oil demand.
The South Asian nation is set to surpass China as the fastest-growing oil products market in Asia, with fuel demand growing by 6.1 per cent in 2018, according to a recent report by the US Energy Information Administration. FGE expects India’s fuel demand to rise by about 4.5 per cent this year to 4.2 million bpd and by 5.1-5.2 per cent in 2018.
Global oil majors Saudi Aramco, Rosneft, BP , Shell and Total are vying to tap a sizeable share of the fast-growing Indian fuel markets. Opec expects India’s oil demand to rise by 150 per cent to 10.1 million bpd by 2040 from about 4 million bpd. — Reuters