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India's September crude imports decline at slower pace; LPG imports jump

(Reuters) - India’s crude oil imports fell for the sixth straight month in September as surging COVID-19 cases continued to limit fuel demand, but the decline was the least since virus restrictions began earlier this year, government data showed on Tuesday.

The sun is seen behind a crude oil pump jack in the Permian Basin in Loving County, Texas, U.S., November 22, 2019. REUTERS/Angus Mordant/File Photo

Imports of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) surged 4.5% to 1.64 million tonnes in September, the highest since Refinitiv started collecting data going back to 2004.

Graphic: India's imports of liquefied petroleum gas

Crude oil imports fell about 9.8% in September from a year earlier to 15.18 million tonnes, or 3.71 million barrels per day (bpd), data from the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) of the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas showed.

On a monthly basis, imports in the world’s third-biggest oil importer and consumer fell about 10% from 16.86 million tonnes, or 4.12 million bpd, in August.

The year-on-year decline in crude imports, however, was the least in six months as easing coronavirus restrictions supported economic activity and travel.

Graphic: India's September crude imports decline at slower pace

Factory activity in October expanded at its fastest pace in more than a decade as demand and output continued to recover strongly from coronavirus-related disruptions, a survey showed.

While the rise in infection cases in India has slowed after seeing a record jump in September, experts warn the current season of festivals could lead to another spike. With more than 8.3 million confirmed cases, India is the world’s second-worst affected country.

Exports of refined products fell 27% in September from a year ago to 4.80 million tonnes, but were up 4.6% from 4.59 million tonnes in August.

Diesel shipments, which continue to hold a major share of the total exports, were down 19.6% year-on-year to 2.67 million tonnes. On a month-on-month basis, they eased 4.3%.

Exports of gasoline, or petrol, were down more than 13% to 0.98 million tonnes.

Reporting by Eileen Soreng and Swati Verma in Bengaluru; additional reporting by K. Sathya Narayanan; Editing by Edmund Blair and Subhranshu Sahu