Deccan Chronicle

India’s fuel demand dips most since April


New Delhi, Sept 10: India’s fuel demand in August posted its biggest decline since April as local lockdowns put brakes on economic activity and transporta­tion, official data showed on Thursday. Petroleum product sales fell to 14.39 million tonnes in August, down 7.5 per cent over the previous month and about 16 per cent from a year earlier, data from the oil ministry’s Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) showed.

The decline in August was the sixth consecutiv­e year-on-year slide. Fuel demand had slumped by a record 48.6 per cent in April to 9.4 million tonnes as the government imposed a nationwide lockdown in an attempt to curb the spread of coronaviru­s.

It recovered in the subsequent two months but has been falling again since July, on a monthly basis. Sale of diesel, the most consumed fuel in the country, fell 12 per cent to 4.84 million tonnes in August from 5.51 million tonnes in the previous month.

On an annual basis, the demand for diesel declined by 20.7 per cent. Petrol sales fell 7.4 per cent yearon-year to 2.38 million tonnes although it rose 5.3 per cent from 2.26 million tonnes in July as commuters preferred driving to using public transporta­tion. LPG sales were down five per cent year-on-year to 2.2 million tonnes, while kerosene demand fell 43 per cent to 1,32,000 tonnes. Month-on-month, the sale was almost flat. Industry sources said reaching pre-COVID-19 sales may take at least 3-4 months. There is likely to be a pick-up in demand with the onset of the festive season in OctoberNov­ember but reaching pre-COVID-19 levels would not be before new year, they said.

Oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan had previously stated that sales would return to normal by festival season but the local lockdowns being imposed in several states has prolonged the return to normalcy. Naphtha sales at 1.07 million tonnes was down 16 per cent over July demand.

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