Indian refiners hike crude processing in February to meet demand rise

March 22 (Reuters) - Crude oil processing by Indian refiners rose about 10% year-on-year in February, provisional government data showed, as demand in the world's third biggest oil importer and consumer grew.

Throughput in February rose 9.8% to 5.35 million barrels per day (20.44 million tonnes), the data showed on Tuesday.

But processing fell 5.8% from January, with a drop at Indian Oil Corp's Bongaigaon Refinery in Assam due to a power failure.

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India's fuel consumption had its biggest year-on-year jump since August 2021, up 5.4% in February compared with the same month in 2021, although soaring oil prices due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine could slow the recovery.

"It was always expected that we'd quickly see demand recover once it became clear that the latest (coronavirus) variant wasn't nearly as threatening as those that preceded it," Craig Erlam, senior analyst at OANDA, said.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said last week that India was set to become the third largest refiner after its downward revision to Russia's throughput forecast amid the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Average 2022 oil deliveries from India will be 20,000 bpd above 2019 levels, the IEA added. read more

Natural gas output, meanwhile, jumped 12.8% to 2.60 billion cubic metres year-on-year in February, while crude oil production fell about 2.2% to around 594,000 barrels per day (2.27 million tonnes), the data showed.

Crude output from drilling wells and the Oil and Natural Gas Corp was lower than expected, the government release said.

OANDA's Erlam said the impact of high prices on demand would depend in part on whether any measures are taken.

State fuel retailers will raise petrol and diesel pump prices by 0.8 rupees ($0.0105) per litre from Tuesday, the first hike since November, two dealers told Reuters. read more

Crude oil processing by Indian refiners rose about 10% year-on-year in February
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Reporting by Seher Dareen in Bengaluru; Editing by Alexander Smith and Aurora Ellis

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