India’s October crude oil imports rise after four months of declines

(Reuters) – India’s crude oil imports rose in October, after falling in the previous four months, as the world’s third biggest oil importer and consumer shipped in more fuel to meet winter demand, Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) data showed on Thursday.

Crude imports in October rose 5.9% month-on-month to 18.53 million metric tons, rebounding from a one-year low in September.

India’s fuel consumption also rose to a four-month high in October, as increased industrial activity boosted sales during the festive season and the onset of winter, government data showed earlier in the month.

“With demand picking seasonally up as we approach the end of the year, there was a higher need to import more crude to cover higher demand for refined products,” said UBS analyst Giovanni Staunovo.

The year-on-year rise in imports is due to the rise in domestic demand, supported by solid economic growth, Staunovo added.

Data from the PPAC website also showed product imports rising 13.4% to 4.41 million tons from October last year and product exports 12.6% higher over the same period to 4.47 million tons.

On a monthly basis, product imports rose 7.6% in October, while exports fell 7%.

OPEC’s share in India’s oil imports in October hit a 10-month high as refiners bought more crude from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates after discounts narrowed for Russian oil that month, trade data showed.

Indian refiners have slowed Russian oil imports in recent months from the nearly 2 million barrels per peak seen earlier this year as discounts have narrowed.

(Reporting by Tina Parate and Anjana Anil in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Potter)