Petrol demand surged 9% above pre-pandemic level, diesel stayed 6.5% lower in September

Petrol demand surged 9% above pre-pandemic level, diesel stayed 6.5% lower in September

The demand for petrol surged 9% above the pre-pandemic level while that for diesel stayed 6.5% lower in September, in a sign of divergent recovery paths the two fuels have taken following the easing of Covid restrictions.

Petrol sales rose 6.6% year-on-year in September while diesel rose barely 1% over last year, as per the preliminary sales data from state-run oil companies that control nearly 90% of the fuel retail market.

Jet fuel sales jumped 24% in a year but stayed 40% below the pre-pandemic level of September 2019, mirroring the struggle of the aviation sector as interactional flights continued to face severe restrictions. Cooking gas consumption, which has been robust through the pandemic, rose 4% year-on-year and 9% over 2019.

A booming petrol sales suggest more people are driving for work and pleasure. It also shows an increased preference for personal vehicles during the pandemic when people tend to avoid crowded buses and trains. Limited availability of public transport too has pushed more people towards personal vehicles, an industry executive said. This has also contributed to lower diesel sales as diesel powers much of public transport in India. Once schools and colleges open up fully and more long-distance buses start plying, the diesel demand would rise, BPCL Chairman Arun Singh said this week.

A sustained increase in the share of petrol-driven vehicles on Indian roads over the years has also contributed to faster recovery for petrol. An extended monsoon has impeded long-distance transport in many places in September, hurting the demand for diesel, which makes up 40% of the country’s oil demand.

The festival season, beginning this month, is expected to rev up consumption in general and boost the fuel demand. But record-high fuel prices might weigh on sales.

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