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India’s Oil Imports Hit 7-Year High In October

India imported 21.02 million tons of crude last month, the highest number in at least seven years and a 10.5-percent increase from October 2017, data from the oil ministry cited by Reuters revealed.

The increase followed the end of maintenance season at many refineries, with demand for fuels still healthy despite rising prices at the pump that the government had to step in and cap to stop a rising tide of resentment among the population. Now is also a seasonally high-demand time as festive season approaches.

Imports from Africa in particular hit a three-year high last month, while shipments from Iran fell by 12 percent to 466,000 bpd. Overall, however, crude oil shipments from Iran to India rose by 34 percent between April and October.

India’s crude oil imports from Africa jumped on the back of refiners who 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. These stood at 874,000 bpd, more than double the import rate of African crude a year earlier. African oil imports therefore came to account for as much as 20 percent of India’s crude oil intake.

India was among the eight Iranian oil importers that expectedly won waivers from the sanctions from Washington earlier this month. It has also maintained that it cannot bring Iranian oil imports down to zero as it grapples with higher prices that are adding a lot of weight to its oil import bill: India imports most of the oil it consumes.

The news of the import high helped oil prices recoup some of the losses suffered a day earlier, when benchmarks fell by about 6 percent. More help came from API’s latest inventory estimate, which surprised the market with a draw.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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