India’s Brutal Covid Wave Hammers Fuel Sales as Lockdowns Spread
A motorcyclist travels along a deserted Marine Drive during a weekend lockdown in Mumbai. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

India’s Brutal Covid Wave Hammers Fuel Sales as Lockdowns Spread

Indian fuel sales declined in the first half of April as a deadly second wave of Covid-19 led to renewed lockdowns and crippled demand.

Sales of everything from diesel to cooking fuels dropped during April 1-15 from a month earlier, according to people familiar with preliminary data from the country’s three biggest retailers. Even gasoline fell by about 5% -- a product that recovered strongly during the pandemic as people favored their own cars over public transport to avoid being infected by the coronavirus.

India has been forced to renew restrictions and localized lockdowns as the aggressive new wave leads to record daily infections and hospitals struggling to cope with the surge. Streets have been left deserted in the commercial capital of Mumbai, refineries are diverting oxygen to help with the Covid fight, and crematoriums are working overtime to manage an escalating death rate.

The worst might not be over for fuel demand, with officials at the state-run retailers predicting a further impact due to the renewed restrictions. They asked not to be identified as they’re not authorized to speak to the media.

Spokespeople for Indian Oil Corp., 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:

April 1-15 (‘000 Tons)M/mY/yVs. April 1-15, 2019

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