RIL's Jan oil imports down 14.2 per cent from Dec

Reliance Industries Ltd, owner of the world's biggest oil refining complex, imported 14.2 percent

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less crude in January compared with the previous month and continued to skip purchases from Iraq, trade data compiled by Reuters show.

Reliance imported about 1.09 million bpd in January as it had cut runs at its older 660,000 barrels per day (bpd) plant by about 23 percent from a year ago.

Its purchases also eased last month as crude inventory had built up after an emergency shutdown of a distillation unit in December. The private refiner shipped in about 1.3 million bpd in December and a similar amount in January 2013, the data showed.

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance operates two refineries at Jamnagar in Gujarat that can together process 1.2 million bpd oil.

Reliance also made a rare purchase of Canadian heavy oil Cold Lake in January and bought Kazakhstan's CPC Blend for a second month in a row, the data showed. It was the third month in a row that it did not buy any Iraqi oil.

In January Reliance perhaps for the first time received Venezuelan DCO, or diluted crude oil, a blend of extra heavy crude oil and heavy naphtha.

Reliance has a term deal to buy as much as 400,000 bpd of oil from Venezuela, its top supplier, ahead of Saudi Arabia.

Reliance continuously diversifies its crude slate, making new and rare purchases to take advantage of the complexity of its plants to improve margins by processing cheaper heavy grades.

Reliance's imports from outside the Middle East included Merey, Leona and Hamaca from Venezuela; Maya from Mexico; Vasconia from Colombia; Peregrino, Albacora and Roncador from Brazil; Azeri Light from Azerbaijan; Ras Gharib from Egypt; Pazflor and Dalia from Angola; and Dar Blend from Sudan.

It also buys oil from the Neutral Zone, a region whose production belongs to both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Grades from the joint area include Khafji, Ratawi, Houte and Eocene.

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