The percentage of Middle Eastern crude in India's oil imports dropped to a 25-month low in May, Reuters reported, citing tanker data. The fall comes as Indian refiners turn to alternatives in order to diversify supplies.
In March, the Indian government called on refiners to vary their crude sources after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, led by top exporter Saudi Arabia, ignored New Delhi's call to ease supply curbs.
According to data, India - the world's third biggest oil importer - purchased about 4.2 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil in May, just below the previous month. At the same time, that amount is around 31.5% higher than seen during the same period in 2020.
The Middle East's share plunged to 52.7%, down from 67.9% in April. It is also the lowest since April 2019.
Meanwhile, imports from Saudi Arabia, India's second-largest supplier after Iraq, slid by about a quarter from a year earlier. Crude supplies from the United Arab Emirates also fell by 39%, the data showed.
As a result of lower purchases of oil from the Middle East, the share of OPEC in Indian oil imports nosedived to a record low.
Indian refiners instead hiked imports from Latin America, the United States, and the Mediterranean. They bought higher volumes of gasoline-rich US oil in March, expecting a recovery in local gasoline demand to continue in the months ahead, according to Ehsan Ul-Haq, lead analyst for Oil Research and Forecasts at Refinitiv.
Nigeria became the third-largest supplier to India in May, due to strong demand for light crude.
Tanker arrival data showed higher overall imports, as cyclones along India's coastline last month delayed the discharge of cargoes.
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