Plunging fuel demand has OMCs worried on all fronts

National oil companies are staring at inventory losses as they have to bring down refinery throughputs because of the plunging demand for fuels following the nationwide lockdown to contain the deadly coronavirus infection.

India is the world’s third-largest energy consumer but the Covid lockdown has shut businesses, suspended flights, stopped trains and brought almost the entire vehicular movement to a halt, impacting fuel demand.

For the full the month of March, total retail volume has come down by 17 per cent, led by a 26 per cent dip in diesel demand and a 17 per cent fall in petrol and practically demand for aviation fuel is down 33 per cent, according to the national data shared by IOC on a year-on-year basis.

The only fuel that saw a demand spike in the month was cooking gas that, too, after panic buying since the national lockdown. Overall, LPG demand rose 1.7 per cent in the month, according to the IOC data.

There are 27.59 crore active LPG customers in the country.

All the national companies have seen a massive spurt in demand for the cooking fuel as people resorted to panic buying, leading to an average 40 per cent rise in demand in the first week of the lockdown.

While IOC, which controls more than 50 per cent of the market, did not share its sales data, both BPCL and HPCL have said their diesel and petrol sales have fallen by over 55 per cent.

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