India's October crude oil imports posted their steepest fall since July and seventh consecutive monthly year-on-year decline as rising COVID-19 cases limited mobility and curbed consumption, government data showed on Monday.
Crude oil imports into the world's third-biggest oil importer and consumer fell 21.6% from a year earlier to 15.14 million tonnes, or 3.58 million barrels per day (bpd), data from the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) of the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas showed.
"Due to the surging coronavirus cases, travel is still being avoided in the tier two and tier three cities and that along with muted air travel is weighing on oil demand in India," said Kunal Shah, head of research at Nirmal Bang Commodities in Mumbai, India.
"Also, when we come across such a huge fall (in imports), it generally points towards the fact that the existing demand is already being met by inventory from prior months."
The import of oil products also slumped 53% to 1.65 million tonnes in October.
Meanwhile, exports of refined products fell 35.7% in October from a year ago to 3.84 million tonnes, and were down 20% from 4.80 million tonnes in September.
Diesel shipments continued to hold a major share of the total exports but were down 24% on year to 2.37 million tonnes and fell 11.2% on a month-on-month basis.
Exports of gasoline, or petrol, were down 19.8% to 797,000 tonnes versus a year ago.
India has the second-highest number of infections in the world after the United States with 9.14 million.
But looking ahead, factory activity is picking up and oil demand should rise in the next two to three months, Shah said.
India's factory activity in October expanded at its fastest pace in more than a decade.