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Data: In 2021-22, USA at 4th & Russia at 9th in India’s Crude Oil Import sources


While the gulf countries still rule the roost in India’s crude oil imports, newer countries have now entered the top-10 source nations. For the year 2021-22, the USA is at 4th & Russia is at 9th position in the list of countries where India imports most crude from. Iran & Venezuela have lost their positions as major exports of crude to India. 

India is the world’s third-largest consumer of oil in the world, only behind the USA & China. India’s consumption is around 5% of global consumption. However, the domestic production is less than 1% of the global oil production. India meets this gap between demand & supply through imports. India ranks next to only China as the world’s second-largest importer of crude oil. Crude oil forms a major share of India’s total imports with around 1/5th of the total value of imports. 

As per the provisional data provided by Petroleum Planning & Analysis Cell (PPAC), India’s oil import dependence for 2021-22 was around 85.5%. It is a slight increase from the previous year when 84.4% of its crude oil requirements were met through imports.  India is therefore excessively dependent on the import of crude oil from other countries to meet its domestic demand. India imports its crude oil from multiple countries, and hence, international trends, diplomatic relationships with these countries, etc., have an impact on the imports. 

From where does India import Crude Oil? What are the trends in recent years? Here is an analysis. 

Methodology: Data available on the Ministry of Commerce’s Export & Import Data Bank (EIDB) is considered for the story. Different Petroleum & Oil products are listed under various HS Codes (Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System). We have considered Imports under HS Code 2709 i.e., “Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude”, henceforth being referred to as “Crude Oil” for this story. 

The share of Crude in the total value of imports is nearly back to pre-pandemic levels 

As per the data available on EIDB, India imported crude oil worth USD 122.45 billion in the year 2021-22.  It is more than double the value of imports in the pandemic hit 2020-21, when the value of import of crude oil fell to USD 59.48 billion.  The share of Crude oil in the overall imports has also increased to nearly 20% in 2021-22 compared to 15.1% in 2020-21. In 2019-20, the share was 21.6%. 

In terms of the value of imports in USD, the import of crude oil in 2020-21 is the highest since 2014-15. Trends over the 10-year period (2012-13 to 2021-22) indicate a fall in the value of imports during 2015-16 and the following year before picking up later. This can be corroborated by the information available with PPAC. However, there is no reduction in the number of petroleum products (including crude) imported during these years. The fall in value reflects the lower crude prices in the international market during the period. 

In terms of the number of Petroleum products imported, data from PPAC indicates a year-on-year increase in the volume of petroleum products, except for 2020-21. The quantity of petroleum products imported has increased in 2021-22, but is still lower than a pre-pandemic year. 

In 2021-22, 53.5% worth of Crude Oil Imports is from Iraq, Saudi Arabia & UAE

India imports Crude oil from around 50 countries. However, there is a large variance in the import volumes from each of these countries with a major share of crude oil imports from select few countries. 

Over the past 10 years, there have been changes in the countries from whom India majorly imports crude oil. While few countries have emerged as the major source in recent years, the imports from few of the traditional countries have reduced. 

While the middle eastern countries have the major share of the crude oil imports into India, there has been a gradual decline in the value of imports from African countries.  Here is a snapshot of a few key trends over the years. 

  • Iraq, Saudi Arabia & UAE are the leading sources of Crude Oil imports for India. Iraq emerged as the leading exporter of crude oil to India in recent years, replacing Saudi Arabia. Either of these two countries has retained the top position in each of the 10 years (2012-13 to 2021-22). 
  • UAE has in the last four years emerged as the 3rd major exporter of Crude oil to India. It was among the top 5 countries earlier. During this period, Kuwait has lost its position among the top 3 import sources but is still among the top 10 countries. 
  • During the early years of the period being analysed, the Latin-American country of Venezuela was among the leading exporters of crude oil to India, whose position fell in the last two years post the pandemic. Similarly, the imports from Columbia have also reduced. Meanwhile, Mexico has emerged as a leading exporter of crude oil among the Latin-American countries. 
  • Among the African countries, while Nigeria continues to be a leading exporter to India, the share of imports from Angola has reduced in recent years. 
  • Iran was among the top 3 countries from which India imported Crude oil until 2018-19. India stopped importing crude from Iran in mid-2019 after, the USA imposed sanctions on Iran. 
  • In recent years, new countries have emerged as the source of crude oil imports, with the USA being the prominent one. The period of the USA’s emergence among the top countries for crude oil imports coincides with the reduction of India’s crude oil imports from Iran. In 2021-22, the USA is the fourth largest exporter of Crude oil to India. The USA along with the top-3 countries of Iraq, Saudi Arabia & UAE make up 63% of the total value of Crude oil imports to India. 
  • The year 2021-22 has seen the emergence of Russia & Brazil among the top 10 countries from which India imports crude oil. 

The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020-21 seems to have allowed for the emergence of new countries in crude oil imports while impacting a few of the traditional sources. It is to be seen if the imports from countries like the USA, Russia, etc. would consolidate their position in the coming years at the cost of others. With the Russia-Ukraine war continuing and Russia offering deep discounts, the volume of crude imports from Russia will be closely watched. Despite these changes, the gulf countries remain the major source of India’s crude oil imports. 

In addition to crude, India also imports petroleum products derived from non-crude i.e., products that are refined. These are categorized under HS Code 2710. Even in this case, middle eastern countries have the major share. Apart from these countries, South Korea has been a major exporter of refined petroleum products to India. 

India majorly exports ‘Petroleum Products’ to a few South-East Asian Countries & European countries 

As per the data with EIDB, India does not export Crude oil i.e., products under HSC 2709. However, it does export refined petroleum products that fall under HSC 2710.  These include Motor Spirit (Petrol), Diesel, Kerosene oil, Naphtha, etc. among others. These products are processed in the country from Crude oil and exported.

In 2021-22, India’s exports of these petroleum products were USD 66 billion. It is not only higher than the pandemic hit 2020-21 but also more than the value of exports prior to the pandemic. This could be due to the high price of crude in the international market. 

For 2021-22, Singapore is the largest importer from India with petroleum products worth USD 6.1 billion. UAE & Netherlands are the other countries to whom India exports a major share of petroleum products.  As was the case with imports, there is also an increase in the export of petroleum products to the USA in recent years. 

Apart from Singapore, Indonesia & Malaysia are other South East Asian countries to which India exports. China & Korea are the other countries.  

Featured Image: India’s Crude Oil Import sources


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