Oil import bill up 56 percent till October

New Delhi: The crude oil import bill has jumped 56.3 per cent to Rs71,578 crore in the first seven months of this fiscal against the same period last year because of the steep rise in international crude oil prices petroleum minister Mani Shankar Aiyar said.

In October, crude oil imports were 8 million tonnes or about 1.89 million bpd, which was up 1.1 per cent against the same month last year, but 6.2 per cent lower than September this year mainly because some refining units were shut for maintenance or repair in that month he said.

Exports rose 6.2 per cent to 9 million tonnes, while imports of refined products rose 25 per cent to 4.17 million tonnes over the same period.

The export of refined products in October, at 1.51 million tonnes, was 7 per cent lower than September's 1.66 million tonnes, but 33 per cent higher than October last year, when refiners reported a sharp dip in overseas sales.

Diesel exports in October were 8.2 per cent lower than September as domestic sales of the fuel rose.

Domestic sales of refined products by state-run firms in October-December, the first seven months of the fiscal year, rose more than 5 per cent, while crude throughput at 18 refineries rose 6.35 per cent to 2.53 million bpd.

Domestic crude output in April-December was 681,000 bpd, 3.6 percent over the same period last year.

He said the buyer-seller conference to be held in New Delhi on January 6 would be attended by oil ministers of West Asian crude oil producing countries who would discuss stability, security and sustainability of oil supplies.

The buyer-seller conference is an attempt by India to bring about a consensus among key Asian oil producers and buyers for creating a different price benchmark than the prevailing ones based in London and New York.

Seven oil producers — Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Qatar, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and Indonesia — and four principal buyers — India, China, Korea and Japan — would be discussing "stability, security and sustainability of oil supplies", he said.

The oil ministers would discuss all dimensions of oil economy, from marketing, investment, research and development to environmental issues, he said.