India's Reliance turns to African crude in shale boom spin-off
* Reliance's Jan-Apr Africa crude buys up 5% yoy, Mid-East buys down 1.4%
* Brent-Dubai spread seen below $4/bbl in H2, making Africa crude economical
* Reliance rejigs annual crude import deal with Saudi Aramco - source
* New refinery start-ups make Mid-East crude costlier
* Reliance's refining margins hit 4-year low in 2013/14
By Nidhi Verma
NEW DELHI, May 30 (Reuters) - India's Reliance Industries is boosting crude imports from Africa and cutting its dependence on the Middle East as the owner of the world's biggest refining complex seeks to benefit from shifting global oil flows caused by the U.S. shale boom.
African and Latin American crude, which together account for about 56 percent of Reliance's imports now, have become cheaper as the United States slows purchases and increasingly turns to domestic shale oil, while Middle Eastern heavy crude grades are pricier due to demand from regional refinery expansions.
Reliance is making the switch as it wants to cut its crude costs to stem a decline in its refining margins that hit a four-year low of $8.1 a barrel in 2013/14. Continuación...