India’s oil imports from OPEC nations hit lowest in eight years

OPEC’S share of India’s oil imports fell to 73 per cent in October, its lowest monthly share since at least 2011, tanker data from sources showed, as refiners shipped in fuel from the United States and other suppliers.

India, which usually imports about 80 per cent of its needs from members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), has been diversifying its sources of oil as local refiners have upgraded plants to process cheaper crude grades.

India, the world’s third biggest oil importer, shipped in 4.56 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil in October, about 3.3 per cent less compared with a year ago, data showed. Of that, it bought 3.43 million bpd oil from OPEC.

OPEC’s share of India’s imports in September was about 81 per cent although total volumes were lower, as the South Asian nation cut imports to a three-year low due to maintenance at some refineries.

OPEC oil output dipped to an eight-year low in September after attacks on Saudi oil plants led to production cuts, a Reuters survey showed. The kingdom’s output has since recovered.

In October, Iraq replaced Saudi Arabia as India’s top oil supplier, tanker arrival data showed, with refiners cutting purchases of the more expensive Saudi oil.

To make up for lower Saudi purchases, India also boosted purchases from Nigeria, the third biggest supplier in October, as well as from Kuwait and Mexico.

India shipped in a record 336,000 bpd U.S. oil in October, about 7.5 per cent total imports, as private refiner Reliance Industries bought three tanker cargoes, data showed. The United States was Indian’s fourth biggest supplier in October.

Indian demand for gasoil has been falling but overall Asian demand has been relatively strong because of new marine fuel rules from January.

India’s fuel demand in October declined by 1.4 per cent from a year ago, and its diesel consumption fell by the steepest in about three years, government data showed.

Shekhar Ghosh is a communications consultant and and former journalist, who has edited and written for publications such as like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today and Outlook.

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