Indian refiners' October oil processing highest since March

Crude oil processed by Indian refiners rose to its highest in seven months in October as fuel demand picked up although throughput remained lower than a year earlier, hurt by the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on industrial and transport activity.

Crude oil throughput in October dropped 16.1% from a year earlier to 4.35 million bpd (18.39 million tons), but was the highest since March when the country went into a nationwide lockdown, provisional data issued by the government showed on Wednesday.

Pointing to a recovery in economic activity, India’s fuel consumption registered its first year-on-year increase since February last month, data showed earlier.

Daily coronavirus cases in the country have declined steadily since having peaked in September, although it remains the second-highest number of cases in the world, after the United States.

Crude oil throughput in October rose 0.5% from September’s 4.33 MMbpd (17.71 million tons).

Indian refiners operated at an average rate of 86.7%, highest March, compared to 86.2% in September, data showed.

A major maintenance shutdown at Nayara Energy’s 400,000 bpd Vadinar refinery pulled down the nation’s average refinery run rates. Nayara’s plant operated at 33% capacity last month, the data showed.

The country’s largest refiner, Indian Oil Corp (IOC) operated its directly owned plants at 95.64% capacity, the data showed.

Reliance, owner of the world’s biggest refining complex, operated its plants at 94.33% capacity.

Crude oil production fell by 6.2% to 2.57 million tons (608,000 bpd), the monthly report showed.

Reporting by Anjishnu Mondol and Sumita Layek in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Brijesh Patel; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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