(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.
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
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