India’s oil import bill doubles to $119 billion in FY22

NEW DELHI: India’s crude oil import bill nearly doubled to $ 119 billion in the fiscal year that ended on March 31, as energy prices soared globally following the return of demand and war in Ukraine. India, the world’s third biggest oil consuming and importing nation, spent $119.2 billion in 2021-22 (April 2021 to March 2022), up from $62.2 billion in the previous fiscal year, according to data from the oil ministry’s Petroleum Planning & Analysis Cell (PPAC).

It spent $13.7 billion in March alone, when oil prices surged to 14-year high. This compared with $8.4 billion spending in the same month last year. Oil prices started to surge from January and rates crossed $100 per barrel in the following month before touching $140 per barrel in early March. Prices have since receded and are now around $106 per barrel.

According to PPAC, India imported 212.2 million tonnes of crude oil in 2021-22, up from 196.5 million tonnes in the previous year. This was, however, lower than pre-pandemic imports of 227 million tonnes in 2019-20. The spending on oil imports in 2019-20 was $101.4 billion.

The imported crude oil is turned into value-added products like petrol and diesel at oil refineries, before being sold to automobiles and other users. India, which is 85.5 per cent dependent on imports to meet crude oil needs, has a surplus refining capacity and it exports some petroleum products but is short on production of cooking gas LPG, which is imported from nations like Saudi Arabia.

The nation consumed 202.7 million tonnes of petroleum products in 2021-22, up from 194.3 million tonnes in the previous fiscal, but lower than pre-pandemic 214.1 million tonnes demand in 2019-20. Import of petroleum products in 2021-22 fiscal was 40.2 million tonnes worth $24.2 billion. On the other hand, 61.8 million tonnes of petroleum products were also exported for $42.3 billion. Besides, India also spent $11.9 billion on import of 32 billion cubic meters of LNG in 2021-22.

This compared to $7.9 billion spent on import of 33 bcm of gas in the previous fiscal and $9.5 billion on import of 33.9 bcm in 2019-20. Net oil and gas import bill, after adjusting for exports, came to $113 billion, up from $63.5 billion in 2020-21 and $92.7 billion in 2019-20.

India had spent $62.2 billion on the 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. 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. The nation produced 32.2 million tonnes of crude oil in 2019-20, which fell to 30.5 million tonnes in the following year and to 29.7 million tonnes in FY22, the PPAC data showed. According to PPAC, India’s oil import dependence was 85 per cent in 2019-20, which declined marginally to 84.4 per cent in the following year before climbing to 85.5 per cent in 2021-22.