March 21, 2023

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India’s crude oil imports hit 6-month high on Russian exports

Indian oil imports.

On a monthly basis, imports rose 1.7% to 19.96 million tonnes, up 3.5% from January 2022.

Reuters. India’s crude imports hit their highest level in six months in January as the world’s third-largest oil importer and consumer refiners bucked cheap Russian supplies, government data showed on Monday.

On a monthly basis, imports rose 1.7% to 19.96 million tonnes, up 3.5% from January 2022, according to data on the website of the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Center (PPAC).

“Indian refining will remain strong in 2023, helped by Russian crude oil, which improves the profitability of commodity exports in times of low domestic consumption,” said Victor Katona, principal crude analyst at Kpler.

“Typically, December-January-February is the peak season for Indian refineries, but in contrast to the monsoon season, construction slows down and oil demand is low.”

Russian crude accounted for one-fifth of India’s total imports in the first eleven months of this fiscal year from April 2022 to January 2023, compared with 0.8% a year earlier, data from trade sources showed.

Indian refiners have become Russia’s biggest oil customer, buying crude at a discount the West shunned after its invasion of Ukraine last February.

Reliance Industries, the operator of the world’s largest refinery, increased Russian oil imports by 32% in January from the previous month.

The increase in imports came despite fuel consumption, an indicator of oil demand, falling slightly in January from a nine-month high reached in December. Preliminary data also points to a rebound in fuel sales as the impact of the February cold snap eases.

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