Diesel demand drop forcing India refiners to import gasoline

Indian refiners, designed to maximize diesel output, are being forced to import gasoline to cover demand as plants continue to run below capacity.

The companies are facing a peculiar situation. For years, they have been pumping out diesel used by trucks and industries to keep the pace of economic growth. Now, the onslaught of the coronavirus has turned the tables, and the lack of demand is forcing refiners to operate their plants below capacity, and in the process cut output of other essential fuels.

Complicating the situation is that gasoline sales are back at pre-virus levels, led by greater use of personal vehicles to avoid the risk of getting infected on public transport. The same reason, however, is contributing to diesel use staying about 8% lower. Also impacting consumption are a slower pickup in industrial activities, lower seasonal demand and higher retail prices.

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