India has emerged as the top buyer of US crude in the first quarter of calendar year 2021 from second-biggest buyer last year as the world’s third largest oil consumer looks at alternate sources of crude amidst a spat with Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest producer, to lift output curbs, and rein in prices.
Indian refiners were the second largest buyer of US crude in calendar year 2020 snapping up 287,000 barrels per day which was 26 per cent more than 2019, accounting for just below a tenth of the total US crude exports in 2020, according to industry data and officials at state-run oil firms.
As Saudi Arabia staved off India’s request to boost production to cool prices, Indian refiners replaced some of the Saudi volumes with US cargoes at the behest of the government, an executive with one of the state-run oil refiners said.
This reflected in a marked change in crude sourcing with India becoming the biggest buyer of US crude, importing an average of 421,000 b/d of U S crude between January and March. This was more than the volumes bought by South Korea at 313,000 b/d and China with 295,000 b/d, industry data showed.
In 2020, China was the top buyer of US crude with average volumes quadrupling to 461,000 b/d compared to 2019.