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OPEC’s Share of Indian Oil Imports At Lowest in 13 Years

Members of OPEC, mainly from Middle East and Africa, saw their share of the pie in India shrinking to 70% in 2021, from a peak of 87% in 2008

OPEC+ data shows that in 2021 the group produced on average over 800,000 bpd below its production targets as some - mainly Western African - producers struggled with under-investment. Photo: Reuters.


OPEC’s share of Indian oil imports fell in 2021 to the lowest in more than a decade despite a 4% rebound in annual crude purchases by the world’s third biggest oil importer, data obtained from industry sources showed.

Members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), mainly from the Middle East and Africa, saw their share of the pie in India shrinking to 70% in 2021, from a peak of 87% in 2008, a Reuters analysis of the data from 2007 to 2021 showed.

India’s crude imports rebounded 3.9% to 4.2 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2021, the data showed, but remained below pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

Imports are expected to rise further this year as fuel demand is recovering, with the government resisting lockdowns despite surging Covid-19 cases while refiners’ margins are expected to stay strong.

Last year, refiners had to cut crude processing for a few months as lockdowns hit gas, oil and jet fuel consumption.

In December, imports surged to an 11-month high of about 4.7 million bpd, about 5% more than in November, but still 7.8% lower than a year earlier, the data showed.

“With fears of Omicron spread receding and refineries expected to operate at full capacity because of improved cracks and fuel demand, Indian oil imports could rise by about 5%,” MK Surana, chairman of state-run Hindustan Petroleum Corp (HPCL), said.


Indian Refiners Turn to Canada, US For Oil

OPEC’s share shrunk as refiners increased imports from Canada and the United States, at the expense of Africa and the Middle East, the data showed.

As US sanctions made it difficult for India to import crude from Venezuela and Iran, Indian buyers have turned to the United States, Canada, Guyana and some small producers in Africa for supplies.

US and Canadian oil accounted for a record 7.3% and 2.7% of India’s imports, respectively, compared with 5.5% and 0.7% a year earlier.

The share of Latin American oil plunged to a 12-year low of 8.7% as India halted imports from Venezuela under pressure from US sanctions, the data showed. Middle Eastern oil accounted for about 62% of India’s overall imports, the data showed.

Iraq remained India’s top supplier in 2021 since it overtook Saudi Arabia in 2017.

Iraqi supplies to India are expected to increase in 2022 as HPCL will lift 45% more crude for its expanded refining capacity.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard




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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years and has a family in Bangkok.


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