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India’s Crude Oil Imports in the First Quarter of 2020 Make for An Interesting Reading

As the first data regarding crude oil in 2020 emerges, owners are looking for clues as to the future of demand, although much of it will become redundant as a result of the pandemic crisis and the global recession that’s bound to follow. In its latest weekly report, shipbroker Banchero Costa said that “the COVID-19 crisis has reached India as well now, with the country going into a 21-day lockdown starting March 25th, 2020. The measures have begun affecting trade and shipping, as berthing and uploading activities are halted at some major ports. We also need to remember that India’s economy was already slowing down even before this situation started”.

Source: Banchero Costa

“However, this has still to be reflected in the trade numbers, which for one reason or another, have actually been remarkably positive in 1Q 2020. In the first 3 months of 2020 (up to March the 30th), India imported 57.0 mln tonnes of crude oil by sea, according to vessel tracking data from Refinitiv. This represents an increase of +7.2% y-o-y, compared to the 53.2 mln tonnes imported in the same three-month period of 2019. On a single-month basis, January showed a +5.6% year-on-year increase to 18.57 mln tonnes, whilst February showed a +10.0% increase year-on-year to 18.64 mln tonnes, and March (up to March the 30th) recorded +6.1% year-onyear to a record 19.84 mln tonnes. Imports of crude from Iraq increased by +17.3% year-on-year to 13.9 mln tonnes in 1Q2020. Iraq is still the largest suppliers of crude to India, accounting now for 24% of India’s total crude imports. Shipments from the UAE surged by 35.6% year-on-year to 6.9 mln tonnes”, said the shipbroker.

According to Banchero Costa, “from Kuwait they increased by +6.3% y-o-y to 2.9 mln tonnes, and from Qatar by +97% y-o-y to 1.0 mln tonnes. Imports from Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, surprisingly declined by -6.6% y-o-y to 9.9 mln tonnes, whilst from Iran went down to zero (they were 3.6 mln tonnes in the same period last year). Shipments from West Africa went down by -4.9% y-o-y to 5.5 mln tonnes. From South America shipments went up by +16.8% y-o-y to 5.0 mln tonnes. This included 3.9 mln tonnes from Venezuela, +10% y-oy, and 1.0 mln tonnes from Brazil, +28% y-o-y. Imports to India from the USA surged again by +72% y-o-y to 2.7 mln tonnes in 1Q2020. Exports from Russia to India surged by +283 y-o-y to 2.3 mln tonnes. Looking back at last year, India’s total seaborne imports of crude oil reached 212.4 mln tonnes in the 12 months of 2019”.

Source: Banchero Costa

The shipbroker concluded that “this represents a decline of -3.8% year-on-year, compared to the 220.8 mln tonnes imported in the whole of 2018. Last year, 61 percent of all crude shipments to India were sourced from the Arabian Gulf. Imports from Iraq increased by +6.3% year-on-year in 2019 to 48.5 mln tonnes. Shipments from Saudi Arabia to India increased by +4.5% year-onyear in 2019 to 40.4 mln tonnes. Iraq accounts for 23% of India’s crude imports, and Saudi for 19%. The biggest fall, of course, was from Iran. Volumes crashed by -79% y-o-y in 2019 to 5.4 mln t, from 25.5 mln tonnes in 2018. Imports from the USA surged by +124% y-o-y in 2019 to 10.5 mln tonnes, from 4.7 mln tonnes in 2018. In terms of ports, 68.9 mln tonnes of crude were imported in 2019 via Jamnagar (32% of India’s total), 39.2 mln t via Vadinar (18%), 29.3 mln t via Paradip (14%), 16.9 mln t Mundra, 15.7 mln t Cochin, 15.1 mln t Mumbai, 9.3 mln t New Mangalore, 8.5 mln tonnes Chennai, 7.2 mln t Vizag”, Banchero Costa said.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

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