OIL & GAS

India’s oil demand from cars to factories limps toward normalcy

The world’s fastest-growing oil market is showing an uneven recovery two months after easing demand-destroying virus-control measures.Provisional fuel sales in June had climbed within 88% of 2019 levels from less than half in April in the midst of the world’s biggest lockdown, the oil ministry said citing sales of the three major state-owned retailers. But diesel and petrol, typically the two most-sold fuels and proxies for the nation’s economic health, lagged that mark, while sales of cooking gas surged.

The June data “comes in the backdrop of Indian economy gradually getting momentum with the ease of lockdown restrictions and revival of economic activities that are slowly getting back on track,” the oil ministry said in a statement. The figures represent sales by three state-owned oil refiners and retailers Indian Oil Corp., Bharat Petroleum Corp. and Hindustan Petroleum Corp., which together control about 90% of the country’s petroleum fuels market.

Total fuel sales were propped up by a surge in liquid petroleum gases, which are used for cooking and have seen increased consumption as people spend more time at home. Sales of diesel, the country’s most-consumed fuel, were at 5.5 million tons in June, up 20% from May but still down 17% from a year ago, according to officials with direct knowledge of the companies’ activities, who asked not to be identified because the data wasn’t public.

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