May 7, 2009 / 8:36 AM / 10 years ago

India buys more Iran, less Saudi crude oil in '08/09

NEW DELHI, May 7 (Reuters) - India raised crude imports from Iran, Venezuela and Kuwait in fiscal 2008/09, but Saudi supplies dipped as the top oil exporter reduced output and as key customer Reliance Industries cut refinery runs on low demand.

Crude processing by Indian refiners rose 3.0 percent in the 2008/09 financial year that ended in March, the slowest pace in three years, while Reliance Industries (RELI.BO) reduced production at its export-oriented plants by 3.5 percent.

For data on Indian refinery runs, double click [O/INDIA1]

India’s total crude imports surged to more than 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd), up more than 5 percent from the previous year, government data showed on Thursday.

Imports are expected to rise again in the current financial year when Reliance’s new refinery in the western state of Gujarat reaches full capacity by September. [ID:nBOM360273]

India imported 9.5 percent more crude from Iran in 2008/09 versus a year earlier as several firms, including private refiner Essar Oil ESRO.BO, bought more from the OPEC nation, data showed.

Essar agreed to buy 53,000 bpd of Iranian crude in the year to March 2009, but raised purchases to 100,000 bpd from October onwards after the world’s fourth-largest oil producer tripled credit period to 90 days, a company source said last month. [ID:nDEL298012]

India, Asia’s third-largest oil consumer, imported nearly 5.5 percent less crude than a year ago from top producer Saudi Arabia.

“The decline in volumes from Saudi Arabia is mainly due to output cuts and low runs at Reliance’s refineries,” said a trade source.

MIDEAST SHARE DOWN

Saudi Arabia is shouldering the bulk of OPEC’s 4.2 million bpd of output cuts agreed since last September to offset the effects of the economic downturn on oil demand and prices.

A Reuters poll showed Saudi Arabia pumped 7.95 million bpd in April, and the chief executive of state-run Saudi Aramco said on Wednesday, the kingdom is pumping below 8 million bpd and is unlikely to raise production as world supply continues to outstrip demand. [ID:nN06496600]

For a table of India’s crude imports by country of origin, click: [ID:nSP454896]

For graphics, click here:

here

The share of crude from Middle East in India’s total imports fell to 72.1 percent from 73.7 percent, but still leaving Gulf producers as the largest suppliers.

Indian refiners shipped in nearly 3 percent more crude from the Middle East last year than in the previous fiscal year, but import growth slowed from the 11 percent rise seen in 2007/08.

Crude imports from the rest of the world rose more, growing by close to 12 percent, almost trebling from 4 percent recorded in 2007/08.

For Factbox on India’s country-wise crude imports during 2000/01 to 2007/08 see: [ID:nDEL68738]

Saudi volumes make up nearly 19.9 percent of India’s crude diet, followed by Iran at 16.6 percent and Iraq at 11.2 percent. Nigeria’s share remained steady at 8.2 percent.

Imports from Venezuela jumped to 139,000 bpd, six times the amount purchased in the previous year because of higher purchases by private refiners.

India’s crude imports are expected to rise further this year, as Reliance ramps up runs at its new 580,000-bpd plant, which was commissioned in December, turning Jamnagar into the world’s biggest refining complex with capacity of 1.24 million bpd.

Only one crude unit and some secondary units are functional at the new plant so far.

Essar Oil on Monday said it had revamped its 210,000 bpd Vadinar refinery in Gujarat to process about 280,000 bpd, which could also lead to higher crude imports. (Editing by Maryelle Demongeot and Ramthan Hussain)

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