NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Reliance Industries Ltd (RELI.NS), owner of the world's biggest refining complex, has imported its first parcel of about 320,000 barrels of Canadian heavy oil this month, sources with knowledge of the development said, becoming the first Indian refiner to do so.
Reliance's two advanced refineries in western Gujarat state can together process 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil -- about 28 percent of the country's overall refining capacity.
The complexity of these plants allows the refiner to continuously diversify its crude slate by testing new grades and improve refining margins. The company reported a gross refining margin of $9.50 a barrel for the September quarter, up from $7.60 a barrel in the previous quarter, helped by higher demand and unplanned refinery shutdowns in Asia.
No comment was available from Reliance.
"Canadian heavy oil mostly likely Cold Lake came in a combi cargo with Ecuador's Oriente grade," said one of the sources. He said the price of the Canadian heavy oil bought from PetroChina is linked to Dubai.
Reliance processed eight new crudes for the first time in the last fiscal year ending March 31, as it always looks for economical feedstock, the company said in its annual report for 2011/12 which is posted on its website.
Weightage of heavy grades from the Latin American region may rise significantly from the current about 30 percent as the private refiner last month signed a deal with Venezuela's PDVSA to buy between 300,000-400,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil.
Reporting by Nidhi Verma; Editing by Jo Winterbottom and Jacqueline Wong