A worker holds an electronic payment terminal at a Hindustan Petroleum Corp. gas station in Mumbai, India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

India's Oil Consumption Rises for Third Month Before Elections

(Bloomberg) -- Oil consumption in India continued to gather strength in February as increased demand for transportation and cooking fuel ahead of federal elections outweighed an economic slowdown.

  • India’s total usage of oil products increased 3.8 percent to 17.4 million tons in February from a year ago, according to the oil ministry’s Petroleum Planning & Analysis Cell.

Key Insights

  • India’s oil demand in January grew at the fastest pace in six months after declining for three months in the second half of last year.
  • Hectic campaigning during the world’s biggest election, set to kick off next month, will boost the use of transportation fuel as political parties traverse the country courting voters. Demand for liquefied petroleum gas is also surging, with state refiners seeking to import cargoes of the cooking fuel as the government tries to keep voter morale high by ensuring rural households are well supplied.
  • Yet, headwinds remain. With oil prices rising again and economic activity remaining soft, demand growth may moderate in the coming months, Jefferies India analysts including Somshankar Sinha said in a Feb. 19 note.
  • India’s economy slowed in the last quarter on weaker domestic demand and a global slowdown. Animal spirits in the South Asian country had a tame start in 2019 amid a pullback in exports and weak business activity.
  • Domestic car sales declined in February as sentiment remained subdued across urban and rural markets.

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  • Consumption of diesel, which accounts for about 40 percent of the South Asian nation’s oil usage, increased 2.7 percent to 6.72 million tons last month.
  • Gasoline consumption expanded 8 percent to 2.26 million tons.
  • LPG usage jumped 14 percent to 2.22 million tons.
  • Petroleum coke consumption fell 15 percent to 1.58 million tons.

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