NEW DELHI – Indian state fuel retailers’ gasoline sales exceeded pre-pandemic levels in the first fortnight of July, as motorists took back to the roads after states eased COVID-19-related lockdowns. Sales of gasoline rose to 1.03 million tonnes in the first fortnight of July, a jump of about 3.44% over the corresponding 2019 period, preliminary industry data showed on Friday.
India’s gasoline sales recovered to pre-pandemic levels in October 2020 before a second deadly wave of infections began hitting the fuel’s demand in April. Rising fuel sales in India, the world’s third-biggest oil importer and consumer, is a positive development for global oil markets.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said on Thursday it expects world oil demand to increase next year to around levels seen before the pandemic, led by demand growth in the U.S., China and India.
With easing of restrictions by the states after a decline in infections, motorists flocked to tourist destinations and markets, leading Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to warn against overcrowding. This week home ministry ministry asked officials nationwide to enforce social distancing and clamp down on overcrowding at tourist sites.
Gasoil sales, which accounts for about two-fifths of India’s overall refined fuel consumption and is directly linked to industrial activity in Asia’s third-largest economy, was about 10.7% less than the same period of 2019, the data showed.
India hopes its fuel demand would recover to pre-pandemic levels by the end of this year. State-run Indian Oil Corp, Hindustan Petroleum Corp and Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd own about 90% of the country’s retail fuel outlets.