India's top refiner cuts crude processing by 25%-30% on low fuel demand

NEW DELHI, March 25 (Reuters) - Indian Oil Corp, the country’s top refiner, has cut crude processing at its refineries by 25% to 30% as local demand for refined fuel is hit following complete lockdown to curb spread of coronavirus, it said in a statement on Wednesday.

India has imposed a sweeping lockdown of its 1.3 billion people on Wednesday for 21 days, and is only allowing the supply of essential commodities. The move prompted several industries to shut operations and some ports in the country to declare force majeure.

“In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, the demand for petroleum products like petrol, diesel, fuel oil, bitumen, etc., have reduced substantially. The demand for ATF (Aviation Turbine Fuel) has also come down sharply due to suspension of flights,” it said, adding only deamnd for cooking gas is rising.

State-owned Indian Oil controls about a third of India’s 5 million barrels per day (bpd) refining capacity.

Other state oil refiners are also reducing crude processing as local fuel demand has tumbled.

Reporting by Nidhi Verma, editing by Louise Heavens