NEW DELHI: Saudi Arabia replaced Iraq as the top oil supplier to India in April after a gap of three months as refiners in Asia’s third largest economy were drawn by deep discounts on Saudi crudes, data obtained from sources showed.
Refiners in India, the third largest oil importer, requested higher volumes for April from Saudi Aramco and UAE’s Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (ADNOC), which both increased output while cutting prices last month.
India’s oil imports in April totalled 4.63 million barrels per day (bpd), up 5% from March but down 4.1% from April 2019, the data showed. Indian refiners had to curtail crude processing last month as demand slumped to its lowest levels since 2007 due to a nation-wide lockdown to prevent spread of coronavirus.
Lower demand and storage constraints forced some refiners to declare force majeure on oil purchases from the Middle East, defer cargoes and keep some oil in floating storage. State refiners also sold cargoes to the federal government for strategic reserve stockpiles and to avoid paying demurrage cost.
UAE retained the No.3 spot. In April India also raised imports of Mediterranean grades such as CPC Blend, which saw steep price drops. Nigeria, which also offered steep discounts, was the fourth biggest oil supplier and knocked Venezuela to fifth.
Lower intake of Venezuelan oil lowered Latin America’s share of India’s imports to 15.43% in April from 18.8% in March. Higher Mediterranean and African supplies cut the Middle East’s share to 56.6% from 58.9% in March. African grades accounted for about 13.9% versus 9.7% in March, while Mediterranean oil’s share rose to 7.6% from 5.5%.