imported a record 4.93 million barrels of oil per day (bpd) in January to feed
its expanded refining capacity and meet rising demand, ship tracking data
obtained from sources and data compiled by Thomson Reuters Oil Research &
The world's third-biggest oil importer shipped in 13.6 percent more oil in
January than a year earlier and about 12.5 percent more than the previous
month, the data showed.
Imports in January were high as state-run refiners, which operate two-third of
India's nearly 5 million bpd capacity, usually boost runs in the March quarter
to meet government-set targets.
"All refineries are running high amidst a strong recovery in demand,
leading to higher (oil) imports," said Senthil Kumaran, senior oil analyst
India, which imports about 80 percent of its oil needs, has emerged as a key
driver for growth in global oil demand.
Due to higher imports and rising global crude prices, India's oil import bill
in January surged by 42.6 percent from a year ago to $11.66 billion.
The country is set to surpass China as the fastest-growing oil products market
in Asia, with fuel demand growing by 6.1 percent in 2018, according to a report
by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
FGE expects India's January crude runs to reach 5.27 million bpd, about 280,000
bpd higher than a year earlier, as the country's new refining capacities are
operating at almost full rate. India has not yet published refining data for
"The (crude) runs are high before the spring maintenance in India and
elsewhere in the region. Margins are good and so is demand, why wouldn't they
run?" Kumaran added.
India's refining capacity addition of 170,000 bpd at the Kochi and Bathinda
plants, along with Indian Oil Corp's 300,000 bpd Paradip refinery, are
operating at a full rate.
Last year Reliance Industries, operator of the world's biggest refining complex, in western India,
declared 30 percent higher capacity of its export focused plant.
India is increasing refining capacity to keep pace with expected growth in fuel
demand, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks to boost the manufacturing
The country aims to lift its refining capacity by 77 pct to 8.8 million bpd by
2030, according to a government report.
Global oil majors Saudi Aramco, Rosneft, BP, Shell and Total are vying to tap a
sizeable share of fast-growing Indian fuel markets.
India's annual fuel demand rose 10.3 percent in January, with consumption of
diesel and gasoline rising in double digits.
India’s oil demand in January 2018 grew
at its fastest pace in 14 months, by 10.3 percent, although the base for comparison—January 2017—was low
when consumption faltered just after India demonetized high-value currencies.
Diesel consumption jumped 14.5
percent, while gasoline use increased 15.6 percent last month as road freight
transportation grew under the impact of GST and rising car and scooter usage
also pushed up consumption.