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OPEC Producers See Market Share Evaporate In India

The world’s third-biggest oil importer, India, saw its imports from OPEC producers slump to a 19-year-low in the fiscal year 2019/2020 ended in March, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing data from trade and industry sources.

At the same time, India imported more oil from the United States, the Mediterranean, and Latin America.

India's refiners have been seeking to diversify their 80-percent oil import dependence that they have OPEC, and lately, there has been a favorable price spread between Brent Crude and WTI Crude, making imports from the US particularly attractive.

In the fiscal year through March 2020, India’s crude oil imports from OPEC accounted for 78.3 percent of all imports, according to Reuters estimates—the lowest OPEC share in India since at least 2001/2002.

India’s imports from Middle Eastern oil producers alone accounted for 60 percent of all imports in 2019/2020, down from 63 percent in the previous fiscal year.

Imports from the United States represented 4.5 percent of India’s crude imports, up from 3 percent in the prior fiscal year. The U.S. became the seventh biggest oil supplier to India in the year through March 2020, climbing up from the 9th place in the top suppliers’ list in 2018/2019, according to the data compiled by Reuters.  

India had already boosted its imports of U.S. crude oil after the United States ended the waivers for Iranian oil customers when it stepped up the sanctions pressure on Iran’s regime last year.

Most recently, in India’s nationwide lockdown to contain the pandemic, demand for oil in the country has plunged while storage capacity fills up. Due to plummeting fuel demand and overflowing storage capacity, at least three oil refiners in India have asked for lower crude oil imports for May from the Middle East, including from the world’s top exporter, Saudi Arabia, officials at the refiners told Reuters on Wednesday.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on April 23 2020 said:
    It is a buyers' market and buyers can have their pick. Nevertheless, India's crude oil imports from OPEC are the cornerstone of its energy strategy.

    If, however, India's imports from OPEC have declined slightly in the current situation, they will soon resume in vengeance once the coronavirus outbreak is out of the way.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economnist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London

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