March 23 (Reuters) – The first cargo from Guyana’s new oil producer to the world’s third-largest crude oil importer, India, departs this month from a production facility off the coast of the South American nation on a vessel chartered by trading firm Trafigura, data from Refinitiv Eikon appear on Tuesday.
India has asked refiners to accelerate diversification of imports to reduce their dependence on Middle Eastern crude after OPEC + this month decided to extend production cuts to April, two sources said.
As OPEC’s share in Indian oil imports fell to historic lows between April 2020 and January 2021, the refinery began making preparations to import Guyanese crude while renewing major supply contracts between major refiners Indian Oil Corp and Russia.
A cargo of 1 million barrels of Guyana’s light sweet Liza crude oil sailed on March 2 aboard the Marshall Islands-flagged tanker Sea Garnet bound for India’s Mundra port, where it will arrive around April 8. Eikon data.
Guyana’s Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat, told Reuters this month that the crude onboard the Sea Garnet was initially allocated to New York-based Hess Corp, a company that produces crude oil in Guyana together with Exxon Mobil Corp, and was shipped to Trafigura. Bharrat said he did not know the identity of the final buyer of the cargo.
Trafigura declined to comment on commercial matters. Hess did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Since Guyana started exporting crude oil in early 2020, its oil has mainly flowed to the United States, China, Panama and the Caribbean, according to tanker tracking data.
India is a major importer of Venezuelan oil, but tough US sanctions on the South American country since 2019 have limited the volume India can buy, even if it is permitted.
India did not receive Venezuelan crude imports in February for the third month in a row due to Washington’s suspension of an oil-for-fuel swap between state-run PDVSA and Reliance Industries since October. That compares to 371,300 barrels per day (bpd) of Venezuelan oil arriving in Indian ports in February 2020.
Apart from Russia, North American producers Canada, the United States and Mexico have gained market share by selling heavyweight crude to India. (Reporting by Marianna Parraga in Mexico City and Neil Marks in Georgetown, Editing by Daniel Flynn and Marguerita Choy)