Oil import bill moving northward every year

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New Delhi, Nov 4: Due to higher imports and volatality of international prices of crude oil, the country's import bill is moving northward every year and touched 57 billion dollars in 2007 from 13 billion dollars in 2000.

''With the sole exception of 2002, the oil import bill has, by and large, been seen to increase every year,'' said National Coucil of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) in a report.

The import bill jumped 26 per cent to 18 billion dollars in 2003 from negative growth of 10.2 per cent in 2002. The surge persisted throughout the 2004-2006 period from 21 billion dollars in 2004 to 30 billion dollars in 2006.

NCAER said the sustained rise in crude oil prices has affected the volume and value of imports. The average price per barrel touched 61.9 dollars in August 2005, up from 50.6 dollars in April 2005.

''This inflated the oil import bill by 466 million dollars,'' said NCAER. In July this year, crude prices have climbed to a new high of 73.6 dollars per barrel and nudging towards 100 dollar per barrel.

''Although the import bill rose over time, domestic consumption has increased only marginally,'' NCAER said.

The consumption of crude oil increased from 103 million tonnes in 2001 to 130 million tonnes in 2006 and petroleum products from 100 million tonnes to 112 million tonnes.

Meanwhile, domestic production of petroleum products increased only marginally from 96 million tonnes in 2001 to 120 million tonnes in 2006.

''In fact, the production of crude oil remained stagnant at 32 million,'' NCAER said.

It said petroleum, oil and lubricant (POL) account for over a third of the country's import basket.

Bad news is that imports have been growing at higher rate of 23 per cent while the growth rate of export is 19.5 per cent, said NCAER. ''The trade deficit which was only 13 billion dollars in 2000 grew to 64 billion dollars in 2007,'' it added.


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