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India may buy at least 260,000 bpd extra oil in 2012-13

Reuters/New Delhi 30 Mar 12 | 09:03 AM

India could import about 8 percent more oil or at least 260,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the next fiscal year as the Bathinda refinery is now fully functional and Essar Oil has added more capacity -- even though imports from Iran will fall.

Hindustan Mittal Energy Ltd (HMEL), a joint venture of state-run Hindustan Petroleum and billionaire Lakshmi Mittal's Mittal Energy, on Thursday said all units at the 180,000 barrel per day (bpd) Bathinda plant are commissioned.

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The $4-billion Bathinda refinery began crude processing in August 2011.

Essar has expanded its Vadinar refinery in western India to 18 million tonnes or 360,000 bpd from 14 million tonnes, it said in a statement on Thursday and has plans to raise capacity to 400,000 bpd by September.

India imported 3.3 million bpd in 2010-11 and about 3.14 million bpd in April-Feb 2011-12, latest data shows.

The two new plants will result in another boost to fuel exports from the South Asian nation, which has surplus refining capacity.

Bathinda refinery will help to meet fuel demand in the northern region, which is short of refined products, HMEL said in a statement.

Indian firms are expanding refining capacity to improve profit margins through exports and feed growing local demand as subsidised prices have sheltered consumers from the rise in international oil costs.

Private refiners, which do not get compensation from the federal government for selling fuel at subsidised rates, prefer to export fuel.

The International Energy Agency in its latest report had said India's fuel demand might rise 3.2 percent in 2012, led by diesel.

India's current refining capacity is close to 4 million bpd.

The last refinery commissioned in India was in 2011 when Bharat Oman Refinery Ltd (BORL), a joint venture of Bharat Petroleum and Oman Oil Co, started its 120,000 bpd Bina plant in central India.

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