This comes at a time of increasing imports from the US, which rose from 1.9 mt in 2017-18 to 6.2 mt in 2018-19. In H1FY20, India imported 5.4 mt from the US.
“This is a historic low, but unlike earlier times not a cause of concern for India. We have a diversified basket now, making us less dependent on West Asia. Imports from countries like Iraq and Nigeria, too, have increased,” said R S Sharma, former chairman of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC).
A senior official from a state-run oil company said Indian firms stopped imports from Iran on May 4, and are looking at a more diversified basket now. “These figures are only applicable to the first two months of the fiscal,” he added.
Till September, Iraq was the largest crude oil supplier to India with 26 mt, followed by Saudi Arabia at 20.7 mt. Other major countries that contributed to India’s crude oil basket in FY20 were Nigeria (9.9 mt), UAE (8.9 mt), Kuwait (5.7 mt) and Mexico (4.1 mt). According to the latest figures, India imported 64.9 mt of crude from West Asia. However, the total import from the region is expected to be lower than the 143 mt and 142 mt imported in the past two years.
India imported 226.5 mt of crude during FY19, up 2.7 per cent from 220.4 mt in FY18. The country’s crude import bill during the period increased from $87.8 billion in FY18 to $111.9 billion in FY19. In H1FY20, overall crude imports dipped 0.7 per cent to 149.9 mt as against 151 mt during the same period last year. The import bill decreased 11.7 per cent to $69.5 billion in H1FY20, compared to $78.6 billion a year ago.
Despite this, the dependency on crude imports increased to 84.7 per cent in first eight months as against 83.3 per cent during the same period in 2018-19.
The major importers of Iranian crude to India till FY19 were Indian Oil Corporation, Bharat Petroleum Corporation, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation, Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals, and Essar Oil. Though India’s external affairs minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar met his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif on December 23, the major topic of discussion was reportedly the development of Chabahar Port.