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India’s crude oil imports fell slightly in April from a month earlier and refinery intake dipped month-on-month, according to data from the Joint Organizations Data Initiative (JODI), but on the following month of May, the world’s third-largest crude oil importer saw record fuel demand.
In April, Indian crude oil imports dropped by 55,000 barrels per day (bpd) month-on-month, JODI data showed on Monday. But crude imports in February and March were much higher than in the same months of 2022 and the five-year average between 2018 and 2022, according to the data in JODI, which compiles self-reported data from many countries.
India’s refinery intake declined by 199,000 bpd month-on-month in April, but was equal to the intake at refineries last year and well above the five-year average.
Total product demand decreased by 349,000 bpd in April compared to March, but it was at par with the demand in the same month of 2022 and above the five-year average, the JODI data showed.
After a lackluster April, Indian crude imports and fuel demand rebounded in May to new record highs.
India’s oil imports from Russia continued to surge as cheaper Russian crude exports find more and more buyers in the world’s third-largest crude oil importer. India’s Russian oil imports in May alone, at 1.96 million bpd, were higher than the 1.74 million bpd in India’s combined imports from the next four largest suppliers - Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the U.S.
Russian oil accounted for a massive 42% of all Indian crude imports, compared to negligible volumes India had imported before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
India’s fuel sales – a proxy for oil demand – surged in May from a year earlier and from April to new highs, suggesting that oil demand in the world’s third-largest crude importer is strengthening and could outperform expectations.
“Indian demand is equally robust with the latest readings for May showing both gasoline and diesel breaking records,” the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its Oil Market Report for June last week.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com