Published on 22/09/2020 9:24:37 AM | Source: Reuters

India`s August crude imports continue slide as economy stalls

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India's crude oil imports declined in August, albeit at a slower pace, as soaring coronavirus cases continued to hit mobility and slowed economic recovery, government data showed on Monday.

Crude oil imports last month fell about 23.4% from a year earlier to 15.15 million tonnes, or 3.58 million barrels per day (bpd), data from the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) of the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas showed.

On a monthly basis, imports rose 9.9% from 13.79 million tonnes, or 3.26 bpd in July.

Fuel demand in the world's third-biggest oil importer and consumer also slipped in August, posting its biggest monthly decline since April and a sixth consecutive year-on-year drop.

India's coronavirus tally hit 5.49 million, with infections second only to U.S. with 6.79 million, a figure the country could overtake in the next few weeks at its current rate of increase.

Refined product imports edged up 1.5% to 3.25 million tonnes year-on-year, but slipped 18.77% from 4.01 million tonnes in July.

Exports of refined products were down 13.5% in August from a year ago to 4.59 million tonnes. However, it rose 17.1% from 3.92 million tonnes in July.

Diesel exports continued to hold a major share of the total exports at 2.79 million tonnes, up 18.3% year on year, rising for the first time in three months, the data showed. It rose 35.6% from the prior month.

"In India, refiners are likely to raise runs now that demand has probably bottomed out—at least once bloated domestic stocks have been absorbed—risking further exports out of the country," consultancy Energy Aspects said in a note on Friday.

Significantly reduced domestic demand as a result of rising COVID-19 cases in India has resulted in steady exports from the country.

(Reporting by Diptendu Lahiri, Sumita Layek in Bengaluru and Koustav Samanta in Singapore, editing by Louise Heavens)