India's crude oil imports fell in July to their lowest since March 2010 as fuel demand slowed amid renewed coronavirus-induced lockdowns and closures of refinery units for maintenance, government data showed on Thursday. Crude oil imports last month slumped about 36.4% from a year earlier to 12.34 million tonnes, or 2.92 million barrels per day, data from the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) of the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas showed.
That marked a fourth straight monthly decline. Fuel demand in the world's third-biggest oil importer and consumer also fell, posting a fifth consecutive year-on-year drop. The country reported a record daily jump of 69,652 coronavirus infections on Thursday, taking the total number of cases to 2.84 million, data from the federal health ministry showed.
India is also Asia's third-biggest economy, which imports and exports refined fuels. Refined product imports surged 46.4% to 4.07 million tonnes year-on-year, mainly due to a sharp jump in India's fuel oil imports. Fuel oil imports rose to record 1.22 million tonnes in July from 127,000 tonnes a year ago.
Reliance Industries Ltd, operator of the world's biggest refining complex, has been buying some straight-run fuel oil from countries including Iraq to process at its revamped coker, to maximise refining margins. However, exports of refined products fell 22.7% in July to 3.92 million tonnes, their lowest since April 2018.
Diesel shipments continued to hold a major share of the total exports at 2.06 million tonnes, down 21.1% year on year, the data showed. Demand for diesel, which is widely used for transportation as well as for irrigation needs in India, fell about 19.3% year-on-year to 5.52 million tonnes, in July.