India’s crude oil import bill fell 9% to $102 billion in 2019-20

NEW DELHI: India’s crude oil import bill fell 9% to $102 billion in 2019-20 though volume remained little changed as prices crashed towards the end of the year.

Natural gas import bill shrank nearly 8% to $9.5 billion as global prices fell, although in volume terms, imports rose 17% to 33.7 billion cubic meters in 2019-20, according to the official data. Imports rose to fill the gap left by a 5.2% decline in domestic output and a similar rise in local gas consumption. Imports now make up 52.7% of total gas consumption, up from 47.3% in 2018-19.

Import dependence in oil has risen to 85% from 83.8% in 2018-19 as domestic output continues to decline despite policy measures to lift production.

Crude oil prices have lost nearly two-thirds since the beginning of the year as the coronavirus pandemic has obliterated an estimated 30% of global demand. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) prices have crashed to record-lows of under $2 per mmBtu.

Gains from price crash have been slightly offset by currency depreciation for Indian importers. The rupee has depreciated 5.5% against the dollar so far this year to 75.12.

In rupee terms, the country’s oil import bill shrank 7.8% to Rs 7.2 lakh crore in 2019-20. If the exchange rate shifts by a rupee to a dollar, import bill changes by Rs 2,792 crore. If the crude price falls by a dollar per barrel, India’s oil import bill shrinks by Rs 2,936 crore. The Indian basket crude price averaged $33.36 per barrel during March 2020 as against $54.63 per barrel during February 2020 and $66.74/barrel during March 2019.

Import of refined products expanded 28.5% in volume but only 9.2% in value because of lower prices. Refiners exported 6.7% more in volume but garnered 4% less in value. In 2019-20, imports of refined products were worth $17.8 billion and exports worth $36.6 billion.

India’s crude oil import bill is likely to further shrink in the current fiscal year as domestic demand has sharply fallen in April due to nationwide lockdown. The International Energy Agency has warned that the coronavirus pandemic would cut global energy demand by a record amount in 2020.

Global energy demand could fall 6% in 2020 and oil consumption is expected to fall more than 9%, as per the IEA.

Year Import Bill
2019-20 102.2
2018-19 111.9
2017-18 87.8
2016-17 70.2
2015-16 63.9
2014-15 112.7
2013-14 144.3

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