India’s fuel demand posted its first yearly increase since February as a spurt in diesel demand ahead of the festival season pushed consumption to pre-COVID-19 levels.
Total demand for petroleum products rose 2.5 per cent in October to reach 17.77 million tonnes as compared to 17.34 million tonnes a year back, according to provisional data published by the oil ministry’s Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell.
While petrol had reached pre-COVID levels in September itself, diesel consumption returned to normal last month.
Diesel demand soared 7.4 per cent year-on-year to 6.5 million tonnes while petrol sales were up 4.5 per cent at 2.54 million tonnes.
The growth in diesel consumption is the highest in a year.
Fuel demand had snipped by 49 per cent in April after a nationwide lockdown, imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus, shut industries and took most vehicles off road.
The 69-day nationwide lockdown was followed by local and state-level restrictions. Restrictions have eased only slowly and in phases, and localised restrictions in containment zones remain.
The onset of the festive season has fuelled a rise in consumption but public transport is not back to normal levels yet as schools and educational institutions continue to remain shut in most parts of the country.
Demand for naphtha, which is used as industrial fuel for generating electricity as well as producing petrochemicals, surged 15 per cent to 1.3 million tonnes in October.
This together with a rise in other industrial fuels such as fuel oil indicates the return of economic activity.
Also, bitumen, used in road construction, saw consumption jump by 48 per cent to 6,62,000 tonnes.
LPG – the only fuel that showed growth even during the lockdown period on the back of the government giving free cooking gas to the poor – was up 3 per cent at 2.4 million tonnes.
But aviation turbine fuel or ATF sales almost halved to 3,55,000 tonnes as most airlines are yet to resume full operations.
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