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India's Nov crude imports up 6.3% on year at 2.57 million b/d

By Vandana Hari

December 17, 2009 - India imported an estimated 10.5 million mt of crude in November, or an average of 2.57 million b/d, up 6.3% from the same month of last year but down slightly from 10.8 million mt in October, according to the latest oil ministry data.

The data does not include barrels brought in by Reliance Industries Limited's new Jamnagar refinery.

For the January-November period, cumulative crude imports were tallied at 118.27 million mt, around 1.5% higher than 116.55 million mt for the first 11 months of 2008.

However, actual crude imports and the year-on-year growth is bound to be higher because of the purchases by RIL's new 580,000 b/d greenfield refinery at Jamnagar on the country's west coast, which began production in January and started commercial operations in mid-March.

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The refinery has not been reporting its crude import or product exports figures to the oil ministry.

India has a total refining capacity of around 3.76 million b/d distributed across several public sector refiners and two private refiners.

There have been a few capacity expansions this year, including private-owned Essar Oil's Vadinar refinery on the west coast, which went from 10.5 million mt/year (210,000 b/d) to 14 million mt/year in April, and state-owned Bharat Petroleum Corp. Limited's Kochi refinery in the southwest, which expanded to 9.5 million mt/year from 7.5 million mt/year in August.

A new greenfield project on the cusp of coming on stream is Bharat Oman Refineries Limited's 6 million mt/year refinery at Bina in central India, which imported its first crude parcel in early December.

India is the third largest crude importer in Asia behind Japan and China.

It imports nearly 80% of its crude needs to supplement domestic production.

November crude production data is not out yet, but the country pumped 27.52 million mt between January and October, down from 28.29 million mt in the same period last year.

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