The country’s crude oil imports hit a three-month high in August, rebounding from a nearly one-year low in July, as refiners stocked up to boost tours in anticipation of more demand. high around the festival season.
Imports of crude oil last month rose 15.8% from July and were also 3.1% higher than a year ago at 17.39 million tonnes, data from the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) website.
The increase in imports last month came despite a monthly drop in domestic fuel consumption and refiners’ crude throughput dropping to a 10-month low in August.
“Imports have likely increased in anticipation of higher demand in the fourth quarter as refiners need to increase throughput,” said Joel Hancock, Natixis commodities strategist.
Reliance Industries Ltd, the operator of the world’s largest refining complex, shipped 7.6% more oil in August compared to July and imported a record 312,000 barrels per day of U.S. oil last month, based on preliminary tanker data from marine and industrial sources.
Refiners in Asia’s third-largest economy are preparing to shift the composition of their crude oil imports in favor of lighter grades that produce more gasoline to meet increased fuel demand.
Gasoline demand could hit a new record this year in India, as the easing of COVID-19 restrictions boosts business and leisure travel.
“If the pandemic remains under control and demand for oil continues to rise, India’s crude imports are still expected to increase in the coming months and quarters,” UBS analyst Giovanni Staunovo said.
Imports of petroleum products increased 17 percent from the previous year to 3.85 million tonnes and exports increased by about 4.6 percent. Of the 4.80 million tonnes exported in August, diesel accounted for 2.60 million tonnes.
Asia’s third-largest economy imports and exports refined fuels because it has excess refining capacity.