India’s petrol and diesel sales rose by 27.4 per cent and 28.6 per cent respectively in March 2021, from the low base of last year when a nationwide lockdown was imposed at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, industry data showed.
State companies – Indian Oil Corp, Hindustan Petroleum Corp and Bharat Petroleum – own about 90% of India’s retail fuel outlets. The three companies sold 2.47 million tonnes of petrol last month, the data compiled by three state retailers showed.
Diesel consumption, an indicator of economic growth, which accounts for about 40 per cent of overall refined fuel sales in India, totalled 6.41 million tonnes in March, the data showed.
India imposed a strict nationwide lockdown from March 24 last year, resulting in a deep cut in fuel consumption.
“Sales of petrol and diesel are back to near pre-COVID levels as industry activity and travel has picked up,” experts opined.
A more realistic comparison with March 2019 shows demand for diesel still falling short by nearly 5 per cent. But petrol sales showed a growth of 5 per cent as people’s preference for personal vehicles to get around continued.
Market data for March shows diesel sales of state-run retailers, which dominate 90% of the market, at 128 per cent of a year-ago period and petrol sales at 127 per cent.
Diesel consumption had posted a year-on-year growth of over 7 per cent and petrol 5 per cent in the first fortnight of March, clearly indicating a recovery in demand to the pre-pandemic level.
State retailers’ sales of liquefied petroleum gas, or cooking gas, last month declined 1.2 per cent to 2.26 million tonnes as the federal government reduced a subsidy for the fuel, the data showed.
Jet fuel sales declined by 4.4 per cent to 437,000 tonnes.