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India’s crude oil imports in May rose about 13.4% from a year earlier as refiners stocked up on cheaper Russian supply to cater to a recovery in demand in the world’s third-biggest oil consumer.
Crude oil imports increased to 19.57 million tonnes, according to data from the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell on Wednesday.
However, crude imports decreased by about 9.1% from April.
Russia rose to become India’s second-biggest supplier of oil in May, pushing Saudi Arabia into third place, but still behind Iraq, data from trade sources showed.
“Russian crude volumes started arriving in May. Therefore, we might see higher crude imports in May and June. Indian refiners will certainly profit from discounted Russian barrels,” said Refinitiv analyst Ehsan Ul Haq.
Refinery maintenance could have contributed to the monthly drop, Ul Haq added.
India’s fuel consumption jumped 23.8% in May from a year earlier, continuing a recovery from a relatively low base in 2021, when the country was in the grip of a second wave of COVID-19.
Oil product imports jumped 15.8% to 3.23 million tonnes from a year earlier, while exports slipped about 1%. Of the 5.68 million tonnes of exports in May, diesel accounted for 3.06 million tonnes.
“Exports of gasoline and diesel have fallen, which point to increased domestic demand,” Ul Haq said.
India’s gasoil demand rose at a rapid pace during the first two weeks of June, preliminary data released on Wednesday showed, and long queues appeared at some fuel stations as concerns grew over supply.
Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) has shut half of the crude processing capacity at its 240,000 barrels per day (bpd) Mumbai refinery in western India since June 10 to carry out maintenance, a company spokesman said.
India, Asia’s third-biggest economy, holds surplus refining capacity and exports refined fuels as well.