Indian petroleum product exports rise by 40 per cent

Himalayan News Service

New Delhi, April 6:

The hardening of the rupee against the dollar has helped Indian refineries take advantage of the global volatility in crude and petroleum products to register a 40 per cent growth in exports. “The appreciation of the rupee has helped India to almost negate the impact of high crude prices, while helping to increase the profitability of petroleum products exports, which have risen by 40 per cent in 2003-04,” said petroleum secretary B K Chaturvedi. During the 11-month long period from April-February of the 2003-04 fiscal year, India’s import of crude and petroleum products rose to 82.29 million tonnes valued at $16.398 billion -- up from 74.9 million tonnes worth $14.283 billion in the previous year. “For the whole year, our import of crude oil is estimated to be 89.5 million tonnes, valued at $18 billion,” Chaturvedi said.

Between April-February, India also imported 6.716 million tonnes of petroleum products worth $1.79 billion as against 6.762 million tonnes valued at $1.67 billion in the orresponding period in 2002-03.

Taking advantage of the high global prices during the same period, Indian refining companies including Reliance Industries and Indian Oil Corporation exported 12.6 million tonnes of petroleum products worth $3.37 billion, up from 9.0 million tonnes worth $1.9 billion in the corresponding period. “Our net imports of crude and petroleum products till February were 76.45 million tonnes, a rise of around 5.19 per cent as compared to 72.68 million tonnes in the corresponding period last year,” said Chaturvedi.

In value terms, India’s import bill has increased from $14 billion to $14.8 billion this year till February. Chaturvedi said the present scenario augurs well for the refining sector with India’s refining capacity having increased from 116 million tonnes per annum to 121 million tonnes this year and expansion programmes by Reliance, Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Chennai Petroleum, a subsidiary of Indian Oil.

“Our refining companies have been selling through traders in Singapore to even the US but mostly to East Asian region,” said Chaturvedi. While the petroleum sector has been benefiting, the official admitted that domestic consumers have definitely been at the receiving end due to high global prices. He, however, ruled out any post-election rise in petroleum products prices for consumers given that global prices have started easing despite the production cut brought into force by the OPEC.