Oil Imports from Canada could benefit RIL

Canada, the world’s third largest oil reserve (Behind Saudi Arabia and Venezuela) could be India’s savior with regards to the ever-increasing oil prices. Oil companies in India, particularly Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) could receive a shot in the arm as cheaper Canadian crude from Alberta oil sands will reach Indian shores in large quantities four years from now. The production volume right now is quite low; however, it would be ramped up by 2018 with the assistance of a pipeline from the reserve to the east coast. The oil then would be transported to India using ships.

Oil imports from Canada are seen as having a significant impact on the revenues of companies. Take the example of Mukesh Ambani’s RIL- Canadian crude can be 14% cheaper for them than the Indian basket. This could turn out to be even cheaper with proper infrastructure for transport in place. An oil ministry official explained that it costs $11-12 per barrel for the transportation of oil by rail from Alberta (located in western Canada) to export terminals on the east coast of the country, and then further shipping the oil to India. India could therefore buy this oil at around $14-15 per barrel lower than the price at which oil is procured at in other markets.

Oil output from Alberta could reach 1.1 million barrels per day. India, at present imports 3.86 million barrels, mostly from West Asia. If Indian companies can get hold of a major chunk, it could mean costs going down, leading to huge savings on oil import bill and oil subsidies. In 2012-13, India’s oil imports grew by 9.22% to $169.25 billion from $154.96 billion in 2011-12. In the current fiscal, crude oil imports are seen rising to about 196 million tonnes from the 184.795 million tonnes it imported in 2012-13, but relatively low prices have been a solace.

Canadian high commissioner Stewart Beck is aware of the huge interest firms like RIL hold in his country’s oil deposits. “It (discount) has been as high as $ 40 and probably hovering around $20-25. Reliance has the biggest refinery in the world and they very much like synthetic crude because they can develop a lot more products. The new IOC refinery is also interested in synthetic crude. You get more value from the same barrel of conventional crude,” said Beck.

Another reason why companies are pursuing oil sands is because of their nature.They are a natural mixture of sand, water, clay and a type of heavy oil called bitumen. Bitumen must be removed from the sand and water before being upgraded into crude oil and other petroleum products. What is more, the synthetic oil extracted from oil sands can help refiners develop a wider range of petroleum products.

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