Diesel sales slipped 5 per cent in the first half of November, data from the three leading OMCs, Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) showed.
Diesel sales had witnessed growth in October for the first time since February, prior to the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19. Diesel sales for the three large state-owned oil marketing companies (OMCs) fell to 2,860 thousand metric tonnes (TMT) in the first half of November, from 3,013 TMT a year ago.
Petrol sales in this period grew slightly to 1,031 TMT from 1,028 TMT. In October, diesel sales grew 7.4 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y) and petrol sales by 4.5 per cent y-o-y. Diesel accounts for around 40 per cent of fuel consumption in India and its consumption is considered a key indicator of economic activity.
An industry source noted that diesel sales were down only 0.5 per cent for the first 14 days of November and lower travel during the Diwali weekend may have contributed to the fall in diesel consumption. The source said diesel consumption was on track to normalise by December.
Experts also noted that it was normal for diesel sales to pick up before Diwali through greater transport of people and goods with a corresponding lull during the festive period. An analyst, who did not wish to be quoted, said recent data had indicated that sales of diesel and petrol were close to pre-Covid levels, but any significant growth in sales would need an uptick in economic activity.
Data from the OMCs also showed that sales of ATF were down 53 per cent in the first half of November, compared to the year-ago period.
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