India, the world’s third-largest oil importer, will import crude oil from the United States for the first time after Indian Oil Corp bought a cargo that will be delivered in October. The purchase comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US in June when President Donald Trump said his country looked forward to exporting more energy products to India.
IOC bought 1.6 million barrels of US Mars crude, a heavy, high-sulphur grade, and 4,00,000 barrels of Western Canadian Select that will be delivered onboard a Very Large Crude Carrier, IOC’s head of finance, AK Sharma, told Reuters. IOC had to obtain special permission from the shipping ministry to buy the cargo on a delivered basis as local regulations favour the use of Indian flagged carriers for imports.
PetroChina was awarded the tender to sell the cargoes and is expected to load the oil off the US Gulf Coast, said a trading source with direct knowledge of the sale. The cargo was priced on a delivered ex-ship basis, which is “very competitive” to that of Basra Light. So long as the prices remain competitive, we will buy more of the US crude.
Indian refiners are seeking these heavy, high-sulphur grades as feedstocks after modifications at their plants make it easier to process these types of crudes, which typically sell at a lower cost relative to other oil types. The US could become an alternative source for the Indian companies for these grades.