NEW DELHI: India’s crude oil import bill is set to exceed USD 100 billion in the current fiscal year ending March 31, almost double its spending last year, as international oil prices trade at seven-year highs. India spent USD 94.3 billion in the first 10 months (April-January) of the ongoing financial year that started April 1, 2021, according to data from the oil ministry’s Petroleum Planning & Analysis Cell (PPAC).
It spent USD 11.6 billion in January alone when oil prices had started to surge. This compared with USD 7.7 billion spending in the same month last year. In February, oil prices crossed USD 100 per barrel and going at this rate, India, which imports 85 per cent of its crude oil requirements, is expected to almost double its import bill to USD 110-115 billion by the end of the fiscal year 2021-2022, report agencies.
Import of petroleum products in April-January of 2021-22 fiscal was 33.6 million tonnes worth USD 19.9 billion. On the other hand, 51.1 million tonnes of petroleum products were also exported for USD 33.4 billion. India had spent USD 62.2 billion on import of 196.5 million tonnes of crude oil in the previous 2020-21 fiscal when global oil prices remained subdued in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the current year, it has already imported 175.9 million tonnes of crude oil. In the pre-pandemic 2019-20 fiscal, the world’s third largest energy importing and consuming nation had spent USD 101.4 billion on import of 227 million tonnes of crude oil.
Brent spot prices surged to an over seven-year high of USD 105.58 per barrel on February 24 on fears of supply disruptions after Russia invaded Ukraine. It has dropped to below USD 100 thereafter as those fears receded as the West kept energy trade out of sanctions imposed on Russia. Higher crude oil import bill is expected to dent the macroeconomic parameters.
The country’s import dependence has increased owing to a steady decline in domestic output.