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India's oil import bill could swell to $101-104 billion in FY25: ICRA

India's oil import bill could swell to $101-104 billion in FY25: ICRA
India's net oil import bill could widen to $101-104 billion in current fiscal from $96.1 billion in 2023-24 and any escalation in the Iran-Israel conflict could impart an upward pressure on the value of imports, ICRA said on Tuesday. The domestic rating agency said based on its analysis, lower value of Russian oil imports is estimated to have led to savings of $7.9 billion in 11 months (April-February) of 2023-24, up from $5.1 billion in 2022-23.

"With India's oil import dependency expected to remain high, if the discounts on purchases of Russian crude persist at the prevailing low levels, ICRA expects India's net oil import bill to widen to $101-104 billion in FY2025 from $96.1 billion in FY2024, assuming an average crude oil price of $85/bbl in the fiscal," ICRA said.

Additionally, any escalation in the Iran-Israel conflict and an associated rise in crude oil prices could impart an upward pressure on the value of net oil imports in the current fiscal year, it added.

As per ICRA's calculations, a $10/barrel uptick in the average crude oil price for this fiscal pushes up the net oil imports by $12-13 billion during the year, thereby enlarging the current account deficit (CAD) by 0.3 per cent of GDP.

Accordingly, if the average crude oil price rises to $95/barrel in FY2025, then the CAD is likely to widen to 1.5 per cent of GDP from ICRA's current estimate of 1.2 per cent of GDP for 2024-25.

CAD, which is the difference between value of India's imports and exports, is estimated at 0.8 per cent in 2023-24.

India is more than 85 per cent dependent on imports for its needs of crude oil, which is converted into fuels such as petrol and diesel at refineries.

ICRA said the value of India's imports of petroleum crude and products declined by 15.2 per cent YoY during April-February of last fiscal, even as volumes rose slightly in this period.

This was supported by the fall in average global crude oil prices as well as savings from stepped up purchases of discounted Russian crude.

In volume terms, the share of crude petroleum imported from Russia jumped to 36 per cent in April-February FY2024 from 2 per cent in FY2022, while that from West Asian countries (Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait) fell to 23 per cent from 34 per cent, respectively.

ICRA estimates that the lower imputed unit value of imports of Russian oil, compared to imports from West Asia, has led to savings in India's oil import bill amounting to $5.1 billion in 2022-23 and $7.9 billion in 11 months of 2023-24, thereby compressing India's CAD/GDP ratio by 15-22 basis points in FY2023-24.

However, the extent of monthly discounts relative to price narrowed sharply over the fiscal, to 8 per cent on an average in September-February FY2024 from 23 per cent in April-August FY2024.

Consequently, the savings related to purchase of Russian crude are likely to have dipped to $2 billion in September-February FY2024 from $5.8 billion in April-August FY2024, ICRA said.

Post the Ukraine war, some Western nations shunned Russian oil, leading to Moscow offering discounts. This led to Indian refiners lapping up the discounted oil.

The recent conflict in the Middle East also poses threat to crude oil import route. Earlier this month, Iran first launched drone and rocket attacks on Israel, which retaliated by firing a missile.

India imports oil from Saudi Arabia, Iraq and the UAE as well as liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Qatar through the Strait of Hormuz, which is a narrow sea passage between Oman and Iran.

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