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India’s crude oil imports from Africa jumped in October to their highest level in three years as Indian refiners rushed to secure more African barrels amid uncertainties over the U.S. waivers for Iran’s oil, while a narrowing premium of Brent Crude prices over Dubai swaps made Brent-linked African grades more attractive for buyers in Asia.
India’s imports of African oil more than doubled from October 2017 to 874,000 bpd in October 2018, Reuters reported on Wednesday, quoting data obtained from industry sources.
India’s total crude oil imports increased by 14.1 percent on the year to 4.7 million bpd last month, according to the data.
Crude oil imports in India usually start to increase again in October as industrial activity accelerates following four months of monsoon rains and as festival season drives fuel demand higher.
This October, Africa’s oil was a more popular choice than in previous months and compared to a year ago because Indian refiners weren’t sure if they would get U.S. waivers for Iranian oil imports. Eventually these waivers were secured.
Another factor, however, weighed more heavily in Indian refiners’ decision to buy more crude oil from Africa delivered in October. The Brent/Dubai Exchange of Futures for Swaps (EFS)—a key indicator of Brent Crude’s premium to benchmark cash Dubai—dropped to around $2.5 a barrel in July and $1.8 per barrel in August. The narrowing Brent premium to Dubai makes crude grades priced off the Brent benchmarks, such as the Atlantic Basin in Africa, more advantageous for Asian buyers to buy.
The share of African oil in Indian crude oil imports nearly doubled last month from one-tenth in October 2017. The share of Middle Eastern oil—which is priced off Dubai and Oman benchmarks—in India’s imports was around 57 percent in October 2018, down from 69 percent in October 2017, according to the data from Reuters’ industry sources.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.