Crude oil imports at record 21.8 million tonnes in May

India’s crude oil imports during May 2024 rose to its highest level on record as refiners topped up to meet domestic demand for auto fuels as well as for export opportunities.

The world’s third largest importer procured 21.8 million tonnes (MT) of crude oil last month provisionally, a growth of 2 per cent M-o-M and 6 per cent Y-o-Y. In-bound shipments of the critical commodity rose for the fourth consecutive month during May, according to Petroleum Planning & Analysis Cell (PPAC) data.

Prior to this, Indian refiners imported an all time high of 21.6 MT in April 2022 followed by 21.5 MT in January 2024 and 21.4 MT in April this year. Analysts and trade sources attribute the higher numbers to more export volumes being shipped out of Russia and lifting of lower cargoes by Chinese refiners.

Refiners lift more cargoes

According to energy intelligence firm Vortexa data, India’s crude oil imports fell marginally to 4.54 mb/d in May 2024 (April: 4.58 mb/d), but were higher by 1.6 per cent on an annual basis. Brent averaged $82.05 per barrel in May 2024 against $90.15 in April 2024 and $75.55 in May 2023.

Indian basket crude price averaged $83.56 per barrel last month against $89.46 in April 2024 and $74.98 in May last year. India’s net import bill of oil and gas for May 2024 was $12.4 billion. Out of which, crude oil imports constituted $13.2 billion, LNG imports $1.1 billion and exports were $3.8 billion.

Imports from Russia fell marginally to 1.72 million barrels per day (mb/d) in May 2024 (April: 1.75 mb/d) on a monthly basis, and by 13 per cent Y-o-Y. Ural shipments stood at 1.44 mb/d last month compared to 1.56 mb/d in April 2024.

Vortexa’s Head of APAC Analysis, Serena Huang told businessline “Russia continues to be the top crude supplier for India in May. Whilst imports of Russian crude are down slightly in May compared to April, May’s volumes are still the second highest compared to last July.”

Public refiners Indian Oil Corporation (IoCL), Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL) imported 1.04 mb/d crude oil, marginally down from 1.05 mb/d in April 2024. However, imports on an annual basis were down 16 per cent.

Private refiners, Reliance Industries (RIL) and Rosneft-backed Nayara Energy, imported around 679,000 barrels b/d from Russia in May 2024 compared to 695,000 b/d in April. Shipments were down by 5 per cent Y-o-Y.

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