India September crude imports hit 5-month high as business activity pick-up

(Reuters) - India's crude oil imports in September hit a five-month high, government data showed on Wednesday, as a pick up in economic activity and mobility led to higher fuel demand.

Crude oil imports in the world's third largest oil consumer and importer rose 16% to 17.61 million tonnes from a year earlier, according to data on the website of the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell.

"India's September crude oil imports climbed to highest levels since April, a sign that the reopening of the economy continues," said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at brokerage OANDA.

"Indian refiners see crude demand roaring back as driving picks up and on expectations for a strong return of international travel in November."

Reliance Industries Ltd, the operator of the world's biggest refining complex, imported nearly 12% more oil in September than in August.

Factory activity in Asia's third-biggest economy improved last month, with recovery expected to continue for at least a few more months supported by ultra-easy monetary policy.

On a monthly basis, crude oil imports increased 1.3% versus August.

Earlier this month, data showed fuel consumption and refiners' crude oil throughput ticked higher in September from the preceding month.

Oil product imports jumped about 13% to 3.50 million tonnes from a year earlier and exports were up about 3%.

Of the 4.94 million tonnes of exports in September, diesel continued to hold a major share at 2.79 million tonnes, up 4.5% year on year and 7.3% higher from August.

India holds surplus refining capacity and exports refined fuels as well.

(Reporting by Eileen Soreng and Seher Dareen in Bengaluru Editing by Vinay Dwivedi and Mark Potter)

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