July 23, 2020 / 3:02 PM / 15 days ago

India's crude processing extends recovery in June

(Reuters) - India’s crude oil processing gathered pace in June, rising 10.9% from May to 4.29 million barrels per day, as further easing of coronavirus-led curbs lifted fuel demand.

Indian refiners’ crude processing posted its biggest drop in at least nearly two decades in April but rebounded to 3.87 million barrels per day (bpd) in May, data from the Petroleum Ministry showed.

Fuel demand in June extended its recovery from a 13-year low hit in April, rising 11% above the prior month.

Indian refiners operated at about 85.4% of their overall capacity in June, the data showed.

Indian Oil Corp (IOC.NS), the country’s top refiner operated its plants at 97.3% capacity.

State refiners, which along with their subsidiaries account for about 65% of the country’s 5 million bpd refining capacity, are operating at 88% of their installed capacity.

Reliance Industries Ltd (RELI.NS), operator of the world’s biggest refining complex, operated its refineries at about 83% capacity.

India oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan had said last month fuel demand except jet fuel was likely recover to normal levels by September-October.

But India reported a record jump in coronavirus infections on Wednesday taking its total number of cases to 1.24 million, while data showed state refiners’ petrol and diesel sales declined in the first half of July due to renewed lockdowns.

“Localised movement restrictions to control the spread (of COVID-19) is likely to keep the (fuel) demand recovery in check over the near term in India ... We expect demand to remain lower on a year-on-year basis until Q1 2021,” Barclays Commodities Research said in a note on Thursday.

Crude oil production meanwhile was down 6% at 2.53 million tonnes (620,000 barrels per day) compared with a year ago.

Natural gas output declined 11.9% to 2.32 billion cubic metres.

Reporting by Nakul Iyer in Bengaluru; Editing by Alison Williams

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