Photo: DEwira/AFP/Getty Images
Photo: DEwira/AFP/Getty Images

India’s crude oil imports resumed climbing in the year ended March, after stagnating in the previous period, as a new refinery on the country’s east coast started and fuel demand expanded.

The nation’s crude imports rose 6.7 percent to 202.15 million metric tons (about 4.05 million barrels a day) last financial year, according to preliminary data from the oil ministry’s Petroleum Planning & Analysis Cell.

Inbound crude shipments are rising as a growing economy makes the world’s second-most populous nation a center of global oil demand. India’s fuel consumption grew 11 percent last fiscal year, the fastest pace in records going back to 2001. The country imports about 80 percent of its crude requirements.

Indian Oil Corp. started its 15 million tons-a-year refinery near the city of Paradip in March 2015. It processed 1 million tons last year and expects to be running at 80 percent of capacity by March 2017.

Falling domestic production and the need to fill emergency reserves are also supporting imports, said Virendra Chauhan, an analyst at Energy Aspects in Singapore. India plans to create strategic storage capacity of 17.83 million tons across seven caverns, which would cover 40 days of consumption.

Domestic crude output slipped 2 percent to 33.1 million tons in the year to March from a year earlier, according to oil ministry data.