India’s fuel sales rise above pre-COVID levels


LPG sales rose 12% to 2.53 million tonnes in March, data showed.

LPG sales rose 12% to 2.53 million tons in March, data showed.

India’s fuel sales surged above pre-pandemic levels in March on the dual impact of the economy recovering from the lifting of pandemic-related restrictions and expectations of price hikes that led to stockpiling.

For the first two weeks of March, traders and the public filled their tanks in anticipation of a price hike that had been put on hold ahead of elections in states like Uttar Pradesh.

While daily price revisions resumed on March 22nd, the increases were calibrated. The price increases moderated consumption.

Gasoline sales by state-owned fuel distributors, which control around 90% of the market, came in at 2.69 million tons in March, up nearly 8.7% from the same period last year and 14.2% from 2019, preliminary industry data showed.

Sales of diesel, the country’s most-used fuel, rose 10.1% year-on-year to 7.05 million tonnes. This was 5% more than sales in March 2019.

Gasoline and diesel sales were up 18% and 23.7% respectively in the first half of March as most hoarding took place on price hike expectations.

While gasoline sales were 38.6% higher than sales in March 2020, diesel sales increased by 41.6% compared to the same reference period.

On a month-to-month basis, gasoline sales were up 17.3% and diesel sales were up 22.3%.

March diesel sales are the highest in any month for the past two years, exceeding the total amount of diesel sold in April 2020 when the country was in full lockdown.

Industry sources said that while individual vehicle owners were panicking, gas station dealers were not only stocking up on their storage tanks, but also on any tanker trucks they had. Dealers hoped to make a quick buck by buying fuel at a lower price and selling it at revised higher prices.

Gasoline and diesel prices hit the freeze button as election campaigns intensified in five states, including Uttar Pradesh, in early November 2021. The record freeze of 137 days ended on March 22 and since then petrol and diesel prices have both risen by £6.4 a liter.

Jet fuel (ATF) sales rose 9.8% to 4,91,200 tonnes in March, but were 27.6% below pre-COVID levels in 2019. They were, however, 7.5% above sales for the same period of the year 2020.

ATF sales are expected to pick up with the full opening of air travel over the past week.

India went into full lockdown in the last week of March 2020, halting flights, suspending rail and road movements and shuttering businesses to stem the spread of the coronavirus. The March 2020 period was close to normal as COVID restrictions were just starting to kick in.

LPG sales rose 12% to 2.53 million tonnes in March, the data showed. Cooking gas sales weakened after a £50 per cylinder price hike on March 22nd. LPG sales were up 17% in the first half of March.

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