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India’s January Crude Oil Imports Hit Record High

High refinery runs and expanding refining capacity amid a strong recovery in demand pushed India’s crude oil imports to a record 4.93 million bpd in January 2018, up by double digits compared to both December 2017 and January 2017, according to data compiled by Thomson Reuters Oil Research & Forecasts.

India’s oil imports last month were 13.6 percent higher than in January last year and 12.5 percent higher than in December 2017.

State-owned refineries, which run two-thirds of the nearly 5-million-bpd Indian refining capacity, generally increase run rates in the first months of the year to March to meet the targets set by the government.

Another reason for the high oil imports and run rates is the upcoming spring maintenance at Indian refineries. Robust demand and good refining margins also boosted oil imports.

According to analysts at FGE, Indian refinery runs were 5.27 million bpd last month, up by 280,000 bpd compared to January 2017, with new refineries operating close to full capacity.

To meet growing fuel demand, India is raising refining capacity. The country plans to boost its crude oil refining capacity by 77 percent to 438.65 million tons, or more than 8 million bpd, a government report revealed last week. The increase would happen gradually over the next 12 years as Asia’s new powerhouse seeks to satisfy its growing demand for fuel.

For the whole of 2017, India’s oil imports increased by 1.8 percent to a record 4.37 million bpd, on the back of increased refining capacity in the second half of the year.

India’s oil demand in January 2018 grew at its fastest pace in 14 months, by 10.3 percent, although the base for comparison—January 2017—was low when consumption faltered just after India had scrapped high-value bank notes. Diesel consumption jumped 14.5 percent, while gasoline use increased 15.6 percent last month as road freight transportation grew and rising car and scooter usage also pushed up consumption.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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