New Delhi: Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), owner of the world’s biggest refining complex, increased crude oil imports slightly in September versus the month before, including its first ever purchase of Chinese Penglai, shipping data from trade sources showed on Wednesday.
Reliance imported about 1.279 million bpd crude in September, up from about 1.224 million bpd the month before and more than double the 574,000 bpd a year ago, the data showed.
Compared to a year ago the refiner stepped up imports from Angola, Iran and the Neutral Zone in September, making up for reduced shipments from top oil producer Saudi Arabia, which fell by around a quarter to 180,000 bpd last month, the detailed breakdown of tanker arrivals shows.
Last December, Reliance commissioned a new 580,000 bpd refinery next to its old 660,00 bpd plant at Jamnagar in western Gujarat, and it is operating the new unit at more than 100% capacity, executives have said.
Gredes from the Neutral Zone - a region whose production belongs to both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and includes grades such as Khafji, Ratawi, Hout and Eocene - topped the list, rising by more than two-and-a-half times to 278,000 bpd.
Supplies from Angola quadrupled from a year ago to 165,000 bpd in September, but were down by more than a quarter from August, with the West African nation emerging as the third biggest crude supplier followed by Iran.
The refiner failed to import any oil from United Arab Emirates, Britain, Qatar, Yemen and Dubai, which were part of its purchases in August, and imports from Iran fell about 70% last month, slipping to 4th position from No. 2 year ago.
During September Reliance for the first time bought Chinese grade Penglai from ConocoPhillips. Although China is now the world’s second-largest crude oil importer, it also exports very small volumes of domestic production that its refiners cannot process as profitably as bigger plants like Reliance’s.
Supplies from Iraq, which was absent last month, at 33,400 bpd, accounted for 2.6% of total imports in September.
Since the start-up of the new plant, Reliance has been continuously diversifying its crude slate, making several new and rare purchases, taking advantage of the complexity of its plants that allow it to improve margins by processing heavy grades.