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Cheaper options knock Gulf's share of Indian June oil imports to 19-month low

Reuters  |  NEW DELHI/SINGAPORE 

By Nidhi Verma and Florence Tan

NEW DELHI/(Reuters) - India's on Middle East shrunk in June to the smallest since October 2015 as the world's third-biggest importer tapped other sources amid OPEC supply cuts, ship tracking data from industry sources and data available on Thomson Eikon showed.

India's of Middle Eastern crude shrunk in June to the smallest since October 2015 as the world's third-biggest importer tapped other sources amid OPEC supply cuts, ship tracking data available with showed.

Middle East fell 7.6 percent in June from the previous month, partly driven by declines from Kuwait, Iraq and Saudi Arabia as the production cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) made more of a dent in supply.

The cuts also drove up Middle East crude prices, prompting price-sensitive Indian buyers to seek substitutes from Russia and Latin America as the world remains awash with

crude accounted for about 58.5 percent of India's compared with about 66 percent in May, while the share of from Latin America, Africa, and Central Asia, including Russia, rose, according to ship tracking data obtained from sources and data compiled by Thomson Research & Forecasts.

"The choices have increased and crude is available at competitive prices," said M. K. Surana, chairman of refiner Hindustan Petroleum Corp.

"There are high supplies of low-sulphur crude because Nigeria is exempted" from the OPEC cuts, he said.

Even as OPEC and some non-OPEC producers cut output to shore up prices, global output in June is 1.2 million barrels per day above a year ago, the International Energy Agency said on Thursday in its latest monthly report.

The weight of supplies has forced sellers to cut prices allowing Indian refiners to snap up cargoes in the spot market.

"Pricing pressure is playing a role, whoever has crude they want to dispose it as quickly as possible," said A.K. Sharma, head of finance at Indian Corp.

The refiner last week bought the country's first crude cargo from the United States and increased of Russian Urals crude this year.

Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd could buy U.S. light crude in a tender on Friday as they are priced competitively against African oil, the company's head of refineries Ramachandran said.

HPCL is evaluating U.S. crude for its refineries, Surana said.

West Texas Intermediate prices are depressed relative to Middle East benchmark Dubai because of rising U.S. shale production and as the OPEC cuts have reduced the amount of Middle East medium, sour crude. This has made it feasible for to buy heavier U.S. crude to replace Middle East supplies such as Iraq's Basra Light, IOC'said.

He added that a discount of at least $2 a barrel on American to Dubai crude is 'ideal' to cover freight costs currently.

(Reporting by Nidhi Verma; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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