India Regains 90% of Pre-Virus Gasoline Sales as Demand Rebounds

An attendant refuels a customer's motorcycle at a Bharat Petroleum Corp. gas station in Bengaluru. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

India Regains 90% of Pre-Virus Gasoline Sales as Demand Rebounds

India’s gasoline consumption has rebounded to 90% of pre-virus levels as motorists took back to the roads with Covid-19 curbs being eased, helping underpin optimism about a recovery in global energy demand.

Average daily sales of the automobile fuel expanded by more than a fifth in June from the previous month, when demand was hurt by a devastating second coronavirus wave that swept the country. Sales of diesel, which accounts for more than half of oil consumption, were 13% higher than May, but remained 19% weaker than in the same period in 2019.

The recovery in energy consumption in India adds to signs of a bounceback in energy demand, which has been led by China, the U.S. and Europe, and has spurred a powerful rally in futures prices. The revival comes as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies may decided to boost production at a meeting on Thursday, with Russia seeking to increase supplies.

India is expecting fuel demand to get back to pre-virus levels by the end of 2021, according to Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan. “There are signs of demand resurgence,” Pradhan said at a Bloomberg summit on Tuesday. “We are confident by the end of the year, we will be in a very robust position to restore our original consumption behavior.”

Diesel and gasoline -- which together account for more than half of nationwide oil consumption -- had plunged by about 30% of 2019 levels last month as daily infections surged at a world-beating pace of more than 400,000 cases. That’s since fallen back below 50,000, prompting a reopening of the economy.

Some of the nation’s biggest refiners such as Indian Oil Corp. have also started ramping up crude processing.

Spokespeople for Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum Corp., and Hindustan Petroleum Corp., declined to comment. The three retailers account for more than 90% of the nation’s fuel sales.

Here’s a table of the preliminary data:

June 1-30 (‘000 Tons)Y/yVs. June 2019

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