Iraq remains India’s top crude oil supplier in FY19

Iraq has become India’s top supplier of crude oil for the second consecutive year in 2018-19 fiscal year, meeting more than a fifth of the country’s oil needs.

India imported 46.61 million tonnes of crude oil from Iraq during April to March FY 2018-19, up 2% from 45.74 million tonnes in 2017-18 fiscal, PTI reported citing data from the Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics.

India provisionally imported 207.3 million tonnes of crude oil in 2018-19, down from 220.4 million tonnes in the previous financial year.

Saudi Arabia has traditionally been India’s top oil source, but it was for the first time dethroned by Iraq in 2017-18 fiscal year. In 2018-19, Saudi exported 40.33 million tonnes of crude oil, up from 36.16 million tonnes of oil sold in the previous year.

UAE topped Venezuela to become India’s fourth-largest crude supplier. It sold 17.49 million tonnes of crude oil to India, just a tad higher than 17.32 million tonnes of oil coming from Venezuela.

In 2017-18, Venezuela had supplied 18.34 million tonnes and UAE 14.29 million tonnes.

Nigeria was the next biggest supplier with 16.83 million tonnes of exports in 2018-19, down from 18.11 million tonnes in the previous year. Kuwait supplied 10.78 million tonnes of oil and Mexico another 10.28 million tonnes.

The US, which began selling crude oil to India in 2017, is fast becoming a major source. Supplies from the US jumped more than four-fold to 6.4 million tonnes in the 2018-19 fiscal year.

In 2017-18, the first year of imports from the US, the supplies were at 1.4 million tonnes.

While India stopped importing crude oil from Iran following reimposition of economic sanctions this month by the US, the Persian Gulf nation was the third largest crude oil supplier to India. It sold 23.9 million tonnes of crude in 2018-19, up from 22.59 million tonnes in the previous year, according to the data.

Iran was India’s second biggest supplier of crude oil after Saudi Arabia till 2010-11, but western sanctions over its suspected nuclear programme relegated it to the seventh spot in subsequent years.

In 2013-14 and 2014-15, India bought 11 million tonnes and 10.95 million tonnes, respectively, from it. Sourcing from Iran increased to 12.7 million tonnes in 2015-16, giving it the sixth spot. In the following year, Iranian supplies jumped to 27.2 million tonnes to catapult it to the third spot. Easing of western sanctions in 2015 had led to the Indian refiners raising their purchase from Iran.

Kuwait, which was the third largest supplier in 2013-14, has steadily slipped, with supplies dropping by 16 per cent in 2018-19. It had supplied 17.9 million tonnes crude in 2014-15, which came down to 11 million tonnes in 2015-16 and 9.8 million tonnes in 2016-17. Supplies from Kuwait, however, rose to 12.85 million tonnes in 2017-18. India is 80 per cent dependent on imports to meet its oil needs.

Shekhar Ghosh is consulting editor, Indoasiancommodities.com. He has edited and written for publications like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today, Outlook and many other international publications. He can be reached at shekhar.ghosh@indoasiancommodities.in.

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