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India increased oil imports from Russia and Iraq last month as refiners maximized purchases of cheaper barrels to bolster margins and meet product demand, according to Kpler data.
Cargoes from Russia climbed 9.7% from October to 1.74 million barrels a day, while shipments from Iraq surged 22% to 1.03 million barrels a day, the highest level since May last year, according to data from the marketing intelligence provider. Imports from third-largest supplier Saudi Arabia contracted 26.8% to 646,510 barrels a day.
“In an environment when refinery margins even for the most complex refiners across Asia are $7-$8 per barrel, every penny of incremental profits counts,” said Viktor Katona, lead crude analyst at Kpler.
Top refiner Indian Oil Corp. had gross refining margins of $13.12 a barrel on average in the six months through September, almost half those a year earlier.
Overall oil imports by the world’s third-largest consumer increased 4.4% in November from the previous month to 4.57 million barrels a day, the highest volume since July.
India’s appetite for Russian crude will grow in December, but volumes will depend on availability as Moscow ramps up refinery runs after the completion of autumn maintenance, Katona said.
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