India refiners' June crude processing bridled by virus curbs

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A worker rides a bicycle at the Bharat Petroleum Corporation refinery in Mumbai, April 24, 2008. REUTERS/Punit Paranjpe

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  • India's June refinery processing still up 4.7% y-o-y
  • Refinery capacity utilization rate drops to 8-month low in June

July 23 (Reuters) - Indian refiners' crude throughput in June was little changed from the previous month when it fell to multi-month lows as a severe second wave of coronavirus restrained demand, forcing refiners to reduce runs.

Refiners processed 4.50 million barrels per day (18.4 million tonnes) of crude oil in June, provisional government data showed on Friday. This compares with 4.49 million barrels per day (bpd) processed in May, which was the lowest since October 2020.

Crude oil imports also fell to a 9-month low in June as refiners curtailed purchases amid higher fuel inventories due to low consumption and renewed lockdowns in the previous two months, data obtained from trade sources showed. read more

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Refineries' crude oil throughput last month was still 4.7% higher than June 2020 levels.

India's fuel demand also inched higher after slumping to a nine-month low in May as many states in the world's third-biggest oil importer and consumer started easing restrictions and mobility picked up.

Indian state fuel retailers' gasoline sales also exceeded pre-pandemic levels in the first fortnight of July, preliminary industry data showed last week. read more

"With a further likely easing of mobility restrictions, I would expect oil demand to recover further, resulting in higher refinery processing rates down the road," UBS analyst Giovanni Staunovo said.

Indian refiners operated at an average rate of 89.59% of capacity in June, down from 92.37% of capacity in May, the government data showed.

The country's largest refiner, Indian Oil Corp (IOC) (IOC.NS), last month operated its directly owned plants at 93.53% capacity, as per the data.

Reliance, owner of the world's biggest refining complex, operated its plants at 93.12% capacity in June.

Natural gas output rose 19.5% to 2.78 billion cubic metres, while crude oil production eased nearly 2% to 606,000 barrels per day (2.48 million tonnes), data from the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas showed.

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Reporting by Swati Verma in Bengaluru; Editing by Joe Bavier

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