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India’s December crude oil imports jump to 2-year high

India’s crude oil imports rose to their highest level in over two years in December as easing of most of the coronavirus-led restrictions led to improved economic activity and higher fuel demand.

Crude oil imports rose to 20.49 million tonnes last month, their highest since October 2018, data from the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) of the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas showed.

Compared with the corresponding period last year, imports were up 9.5%, their first annual increase in nine months.

Crude oil processing in the world’s third-largest oil importer and consumer registered its first year-on-year gain since February 2020, with refiners operating at an average rate of 99.1% last month to meet rising demand.

The country’s fuel consumption, a proxy for oil demand, rose last month to its highest level since January 2020 even though it was down on an annual basis.

While the country cut back imports of Middle Eastern, African and U.S. oil in December from the previous month, it marginally lifted its intake of Latin American and Caspian Sea oil.

Oil products imports rose 1% to 4.25 million tonnes, the data showed, while exports slumped 27.6% to 4.69 million tonnes from the previous year.

Diesel shipments, which continued to hold a major share of the total exports, were down 15.6% at 2.65 million tonnes year-on-year.

Exports of gasoline, or petrol, were down 28.2% at 954,000 tonnes versus a year ago.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Shreyansi Singh and K. Sathya Narayanan in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Potter and Peter Cooney)

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