NEW DELHI: India’s

crude oil imports

in May fell 22.6% from a year earlier, it’s biggest drop since at least 2005, as

fuel demand

and refinery production was hurt by a country-wide lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Crude oil imports fell to 14.61 million tonnes, it’s lowest since 2015,

Petroleum Planning and Analysis

Cell data showed on Friday.

Oil products imports eased 0.8% to 3.57 million tonnes year-on-year, while exports rose by 5.9% to 5.75 million tonnes, gaining for a ninth straight month in May as slowing demand at home prompted companies to ship more oil overseas.

The country has relaxed coronavirus-led restrictions in lower risk areas, which is expected to improve demand and scale up crude processing.

The latest data bolstered those expectations with fuel demand jumping nearly 50% in May from the previous month, signalling a slow revival of

economic activity

.

However, industry analysts expect a full-scale recovery to pre-Covid consumption levels in India to be months away as the monsoon season approaches while manufacturing activities remain low and transportation demand takes a hit in some parts of the country.

Diesel exports, which continued to account for a major share of exports, increased by nearly 33% to 2.79 million tonnes.

India revised down its

crude oil

imports figure for April to 16.55 million tonnes- a decline of 16% year-on-year, from 17.28 million tonnes reported earlier, the data showed.

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