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India’s Oil Imports From North America Break Another Record

The United States and Canada accounted for 11 percent of India’s crude oil imports in January—a record-high share of North American crude for the world’s third-largest oil importer, Reuters reported on Monday, citing data obtained from trade sources.

India’s total crude oil imports last month averaged around 4.8 million barrels per day (bpd), down from a three-year high in December, but slightly up compared to January last year.

In December 2020, India’s crude oil imports were estimated to have jumped by 29 percent compared to November and by 11.6 percent compared to December 2019, to more than 5 million bpd. This was the highest import level in almost three years.

In January, India’s imports eased from December, but demand for crude oil from the United States and Canada increased as gasoline demand rebounded.

According to Reuters estimates, India’s imports from the United States nearly doubled month over month to 367,000 bpd in January, making the U.S. India’s fourth-largest supplier of crude oil after Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Imports from Canada also doubled to 142,000 bpd.

At the same time, the share of the Middle East in India’s imports dropped to 61 percent—the lowest level in eight months, due to reduced supplies out of the two top suppliers, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, which have limited some exports as part of the OPEC+ pact. 

India, which relies on imports for around 80 percent of its oil consumption, is seeking to diversify purchases as much as possible to take advantage of lower prices from some regions.

In recent months, India has been sourcing more and more oil in spot deals with exporters outside of the Middle East after the biggest OPEC producers have tightened global crude supply as part of the OPEC+ pact. Indian refiners have boosted imports from exporters such as the United States and West African OPEC producer Nigeria, which sell lighter crude grades yielding more gasoline, according to Bloomberg data.

Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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