India's oil imports from Iraq rose 31.5 percent in July from a month ago, shipping data showed, allowing the Middle Eastern country to retain the top supplier spot for the fourth consecutive month amid declines from sellers like the United Arab Emirates, Venezuela and Iran. India took 954,400 barrels per day (bpd) of Iraqi oil in July compared with 725,800 bpd in June, according to ship tracking data obtained from sources and data compiled by the source.
India's July imports from Iraq are also nearly 50 percent higher than volumes imported in the same month last year, the data showed. The spike in Iraqi imports comes amid a slump in Venezuelan crude shipments, which fell 31.1 percent from June to 337,100 bpd in July. Venezuelan crude exports have declined as it struggles to secure the light oil needed to dilute its heavy crude grades for export.
India is also diversifying its crude purchases as it plans to order about a quarter less Iranian crude in the fiscal year to March 31, 2018, due to what it perceives as a snub over the development of Iran's Farzad B gas field. India's imports of Iranian crude fell 16.3 percent on the month to 414,900 bpd, and are down 20.7 percent from a year ago. Last month Reliance for the first time bought oil produced from Iran's South Pars field, the data also showed. Loadings of Iranian oil for India are likely drop to 310,000 bpd this month, the lowest since February 2016, sources told Reuters last week. To make up for the shortfall from Iran, Indian refiners have turned to the spot market and picked up sour crude from Iraq and Russia among others to meet their demand. India's Russian crude imports in July more than tripled to 148,600 bpd from.