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India’s Oil Import Bill Shrinks, But So Do Crude Imports

India paid much less for the crude oil imported between April and July 2020 compared to the same period last year, due to the significantly low oil prices and lower import volumes amid decreased fuel demand.

Because of the slump in international oil price benchmarks, India’s crude oil import bill was US$12.4 billion in April-July, the first quarter of India’s fiscal year. For this sum, India imported 57.2 million tons of crude oil, compared to imports of 74.9 million tons worth US$36.2 billion for the same period of 2019, India’s Minister of Petroleum Dharmendra Pradhan told Parliament on Monday.

In April, the world’s third-largest oil importer, India, was bargain hunting for cheap crude grades as international oil prices averaged below $20 a barrel throughout the month. India spent US$3.1 billion to purchase 16.6 million tons of crude oil in April, compared to spending US$9.7 billion on 19.7 million tons of crude in April last year, the minister said, quoted by The Economic Times.

India, like the world’s largest oil importer, China, took advantage of the lowest oil prices in decades in April to stock up on crude oil.

Unlike in China, however, oil demand is not rebounding in India, which has had to resort to localized lockdowns after re-opening from the nationwide lockdown, in an attempt to curb the soaring cases of coronavirus infections in the country.

Fuel demand in India, which crashed by 60 percent during the initial nationwide lockdown, fell again in August month over month, for the biggest monthly decline since April, as local lockdowns impacted mobility and economic activity.

India’s oil import volumes could also be a source of concern on the oil market—imports fell in June to the lowest in more than five years, while the imports in July slumped to their lowest level in over a decade, amid local lockdowns and refinery maintenance.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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