July 23, 2019 / 3:47 PM / a month ago

India's June crude oil imports fall to more than two-year low

A boy walks past an oil tanker train stationed at a railway station in Ghaziabad, on the outskirts of New Delhi, February 1, 2019. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis/Files

(Reuters) - India’s June crude oil imports fell 13.4% from a year earlier to their lowest since February 2017, government data showed on Tuesday.

Crude imports into the world’s third-biggest oil importer fell to 16.87 million tonnes, which was also a more than 10% drop from May’s 18.87 million tonnes.

June’s decline came amid the loss of Iranian oil supplies as Washington tightened sanctions on Tehran.

In April, Trump administration had said it would not renew exemptions granted last year to buyers of Iranian oil. India through May was Iran’s second-biggest oil customer after China.

Meanwhile, imports of oil products surged by about 20.4% from a year earlier, while year-on-year exports slipped 11.4% last month, the data showed.

Diesel exports climbed nearly 6% to 2.22 million tonnes in June month-on-month, though they were down 9.4% from a year earlier, due to weaker demand in the domestic sector due to the monsoon season.

Monsoon rains typically reduce the need for diesel used in irrigation pumps, which typically ramps up exports of the fuel.

India’s strong diesel demand growth is likely to decouple from the car market as motorists increasingly turn to gasoline vehicles, leaving it more reliant on patchy demand from construction and heavy industry.

Reporting by Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru; editing by David Evans and Jane Merriman

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