Millennium Post

After petrol, diesel demand returns to pre-Covid levels

New Delhi: After petrol, diesel demand has returned to pre-COVID-19 levels as sales rose 8.8 per cent in the first half of October from a year ago, preliminary industry data showed.

This is the first annual increase in sales of diesel - the most consumed fuel in the country - since the nation imposed lockdown in late March to curb the spread of the pandemic.

While demand for petrol has been more resilient than diesel due to an increased preference for using personal vehicles instead of public transport to follow distancing norms, October 1-15 sales number showed better than anticipated recovery.

A pent-up demand and the upcoming festive season was expected to support fuel sales but even before that diesel sales rose to 2.65 million tonnes in the first fortnight of October from 2.43 million tonne a year back and 2.13 million tonne in the first half of September.

Petrol, which had returned to pre-COVID levels last month, posted a 1.5 per cent rise in sales to 982,000 tonne in the first half of October, up from 967,000 tonne in the same period a year back and 968,000 tonne in the first fortnight of September.

India witnessed unprecedented demand destruction after a nationwide lockdown was imposed on March 25. Oil demand fell by as much as 49 per cent in April.

With the easing of restrictions and reopening of the economy, fuel demand recovered sharply in June from April before slowing due to the reimposition of restrictions in certain cities because of coronavirus and flooding in some regions.

It started to climb back again in September. Even in September, diesel had shown a month-on-month increase.

On Thursday, Shrikant Madhav Vaidya, Chairman of Indian Oil Corp - the nation's biggest oil firm, had stated that September recovery was faster than expected.

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