Middle East share of India’s oil imports hits 25-month low
NEW DELHI (Reuters) – The share of Middle Eastern crude in India’s oil imports fell to its lowest level in 25 months in May, oil tanker data from trade sources showed, so that refiners were using alternatives in response to the government’s call to diversify their supplies.
India, the world’s third-largest importer of oil, in March asked refiners to diversify their sources of crude after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, led by the largest Saudi exporter, ignored the New Delhi call to ease supply restrictions.
Asia’s third-largest economy imported around 4.2 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil in May, just below the previous month but around 31.5% more than a year earlier, the data showed.
The Middle East’s share fell to 52.7%, the lowest since April 2019 and down from 67.9% in April, according to the data.
GRAPHIC: OPEC’s share of India’s oil imports drops to record high –
Imports from Saudi Arabia, India’s second-largest supplier after Iraq, fell by around a quarter from the previous year, while supplies from the United Arab Emirates, which fell to 7th place after the 3rd in April, fell 39%. the data showed.
It comes after Indian state refiners were appointed to haul less oil from Saudi Arabia in May.
Falling oil purchases from the Middle East have pushed OPEC’s share of India’s oil imports to an all-time high.
GRAPH: Share of various regions in India’s oil imports –
To replace oil from the Middle East, refiners have increased imports from Latin America, the United States and the Mediterranean.
Indian refiners bought higher volumes of gasoline-rich U.S. oil in March, expecting a pickup in local gasoline demand to continue in the coming months, said Ehsan Ul-Haq, analyst principal for oil research and forecasting at Refinitiv.
Strong demand for light crude helped Nigeria improve its ranking by two notches to become India’s third largest supplier in May.
Indian private refiners Reliance Industries and Nayara Energy, however, increased their purchases of Canadian heavy oil to a record 244,000 bpd, or about 6% of India’s overall imports.
“The Indians bought the CPC blend of Kazakhstan and Canadian oil because of attractive discounts from dated Brent and WTI, respectively,” Ul-Haq said.
Data on tanker arrivals showed higher imports contrary to preliminary government data, as cyclones along the Indian coast last month delayed the unloading of cargoes.
Reporting by Nidhi Verma; Editing by Florence Tan and Mark Potter