India's crude oil imports fall, product exports surge in AprilIndia's crude oil imports fall, product exports surge in April
A boy walks past an oil tanker train stationed at a railway station in Ghaziabad

(Reuters) – India’s crude oil imports in April recorded their biggest year-on-year fall in 10 months as coronavirus-induced lockdown restrictions halted economic activity and sapped demand.

Crude oil imports in April fell 12.4% to 17.28 million tonnes from a year earlier, its steepest decline since June 2019, data on the website of Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell said.

Oil product imports also dropped 6.5% to 3.35 million tonnes, their first year-on-year decline in 16 months.

But exports of refined products had their biggest rise year-on-year since October 2016 because of a slowdown in domestic demand.

Fuel demand in April plunged more than 45% as coronavirus lockdown restrictions hit industrial activity. This prompted Indian refiners to continue prompt exports of refined fuels to avoid a complete shutdown.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has extended the country’s coronavirus lockdowns to May 31, but relaxed rules in areas with lower numbers of cases, raising hopes fuel demand will recover.

Refined product exports were 37% higher than a year ago at 6.04 million tonnes. Exports of diesel, which continued to account for a major share of exports, surged by 68% in April year-on-year to 3.40 million tonnes, the data showed.

A record volume of diesel is set to reach Europe from the East in May after lockdown measures left refiners in Asia and the Middle East with excess volumes of fuel.

(Reporting by Nakul Iyer and K. Sathya Narayanan in Bengaluru. Editing by Jane Merriman)