Indian state refiners placed orders for regular supplies from Saudi Aramco for June, after reducing purchases this month, drawn by lower prices by the world’s top oil exporter, four sources said.
The refiners – Indian Oil Corp, Bharat Petroleum Corp, Hindustan Petroleum Corp and Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd – normally buy 14.8 million-15 million barrels of Saudi oil a month.
“This time there is no direction from the ministry to cut imports in June and unlike last time they (Aramco) have reduced the prices as well,” said one of the sources.
Saudi Arabia has cut the June official selling prices (OSPs) of all crude grades it sells to Asia.
It set the June OSP for the flagship Arab light crude at $1.7 a barrel above the Oman/Dubai average for Asia, down 10 cents from May and its first price cut since December last year, sources told Reuters.
India, the world’s third-biggest oil importer and consumer, imports more than 80% of its oil needs and relies heavily on the Middle East.
Earlier this year New Delhi blamed cuts by the Saudis and other oil producers for driving up crude prices as its economy tries to cope with the pandemic and advised state refiners to cut purchases.
India urged refiners to diversify crude sources to cut reliance on the Middle East and directed them to reduce intake of Saudi oil. The refiners cut purchases by over a third in May.
Another source said Indian refiners cannot continue with the cuts from Saudi Arabia on a sustained basis as the companies have to lift the volumes under annual contracts.
No immediate response was available from the companies.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Nidhi Verma in New Delhi; Editing by Chris Reese and Matthew Lewis)