Reliance helps double India Fuel Exports to US

India more than doubled its exports of petroleum products to the U.S. last year after Reliance Industries Ltd. started a refinery for exporting, according to tanker data collected by Clarkson Research Services Ltd.

At least 610,000 metric tons of gasoline (about 5.19 million barrels) was shipped to the U.S. from India, using 10 Aframax tankers, Clarkson data showed. India exported 2 million barrels of fuel to the U.S. in 2008, according to the Department of Energy.

Reliance, India’s biggest non-state company, started an export-oriented 580,000-barrel-a-day refinery in December 2008. It’s next to an older plant that can process 660,000 barrels a day. Together, they make up the largest refining complex in the world, according to Reliance.

“Most of India’s exports are from Reliance, which set up the new export-oriented refinery to get tax breaks from the government,” said Seema Desai, a London-based analyst at Eurasia Group. “The government-owned refineries are for the domestic market.”

India’s state-owned refineries, such as Indian Oil Corp., receive government subsidies to sell gasoline in the domestic market below cost, unlike privately owned refiners.

Reliance Exports

About 57 percent of Reliance’s refined output is for exports, Alok Agarwal, Reliance’s chief financial officer, said in an e-mail.

“The decision on the mix between the two depends on where we get better profits and the capacity of the markets to absorb the output,” Agarwal said. “We are today dealing with all the major oil companies of the world to sell our output in Asia, Europe and the U.S.”

The Baltic Clean Tanker Index rose for a third session today, up 2 points to 900 on the London-based Baltic Exchange. Crude oil for March delivery gained 72 cents, or 1 percent, to settle at $75.26 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

As a result of rising exports, Reliance became for the first time in 2009 one of the top 10 charterers of Aframax tankers to ship petroleum products, according to a report released by Poten & Partners, a shipbroker.

Hess Corp., the fifth-largest U.S. oil company, chartered a tanker to transport gasoline for Reliance in June, according to Millennium Chartering Pte., a ship brokerage based in Singapore. Hess hired at least five Aframax tankers last year to ship gasoline to the U.S. from India, the Clarkson data showed. Aframaxes can carry 830,000 barrels.

Reliance Exports Rise

Reliance’s exports of refined products increased to 23.6 million metric tons in the nine months ended December, up from 16.2 million metric tons a year ago, the company said Jan. 22.

Domestic sales also increased, to 20.65 million metric tons from 8.01 million a year earlier, according to Bloomberg calculations based on export figures.

Indian exports rose as U.S. and European refineries process less oil because of lower profit margins. said James Williams, an economist at energy research firm WTRG Economics in Arkansas.

Plants in the U.S. ran at 78.4 percent of capacity in the week ended Jan. 15, the lowest level since September 2008, according to the DOE.



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