Gasoline sales down 17.6%, diesel 26% in March as the shutdown limits demand

NEW DELHI: India gasoline sale It contracted 17.6 percent and demand for diesel collapsed nearly 26 percent in March when the economy froze under the announced national blockade to control the spread of Covid-19.

Additionally, sales of aviation turbine fuel (ATF) fell 31.6 percent as flights were suspended along with the closure of businesses and the majority of vehicle traffic diverted from the road.

Gasoline sales fell to 1,943 million tons in March sold in the same month in 2019, according to provisional industry demand figures.

Diesel, the most consumed fuel in the country, experienced a demand contract of 25.9 percent to 4,982 million tons.

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Similarly, ATF sales fell to 4.63,000 tons.

The only fuel that showed growth was LPG, as households were quick to reserve refills to store during the three-week lockout period.

LPG sales increased 1.9 percent to 2,286 million tons in March.

These are provisional numbers for the three public sector oil trading companies: Indian Oil Corp (COI), Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL).

The actual March numbers after including the sales of private sector companies would be announced in the coming days.

Industry officials said the fuel consumption pattern is likely to continue into April as the blockade will last until the middle of the month and there are indications that the partial restrictions will continue even after the blockade is lifted.

Gasoline and diesel sales in April they are a third of what they were a year ago, they said that demand is expected to increase when the blockade is lifted and restrictions on public transport are lifted.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a 21-day shutdown starting March 25, closing offices and factories, excluding those involved in essential services. In addition, flights were suspended, trains stopped jumping, and vehicles went off the road as most people were asked to stay home to help control the spread of the coronavirus.

March will be the first month in two-and-a-half-years when gasoline sale would see a negative or degrowth. The fuel had registered an 8.2 per cent growth during the first 11 months of 2019-20 fiscal.

Diesel has seen an increase in consumption of 1.1 percent between April 2019 and February 2020. Sales fell into negative territory in January this year before increasing in February.

LPG consumption registered a 4.3 percent decrease during February and a cumulative growth of 6.2 percent in April-February.