(EnergyAsia, October 28 2010, Thursday) — Indian Oil Corp (IOC) is preparing to import an additional three million tonnes of crude oil a year to feed its newly expanded refinery near Panipat in the northern Indian state of Haryana.

IOC invested more than 10 billion rupees to expand the Panipat refinery to process 15 million tonnes of crude annually, enabling it to overtake Reliance Industries as the country’s largest refiner. (US$1=Rs44).

Expected to be completed in November, the project will start up just as India’s fuel consumption continues to rise in step with its fast-growing economy.

The IOC group now own and operate 61.7 million tonnes of refining capacity, just behind Reliance’s 62million tonnes.

India’s oil consumption is expected to reach a record of more than 146 million tonnes in the year ending March 2011, up from 138.2 million the previous year. In the last fiscal year ending March 2010, IOC imported 159.3 million tonnes of crude.