India’s gas oil and gasoline sales are at their highest pre-COVID levels on price hike fears

India’s petrol and gasoil sales surged above pre-COVID 2019 levels in the first half of March, preliminary data released on Wednesday showed, as consumers and traders tanked amid the likelihood of a fuel price hike after March 10. State-controlled retailers sold 3.53 million tons of gasoil March 1-15, up 32.8% month-on-month. Gasoline sales increased by 18.8% to 1.24 million tons. Bharat Petroleum Corp Chairman AK Singh said: “The 20% to 25% increase in demand was due to customers and traders buying more and anticipating a price increase.” Retailers have defied pump prices since Nov. 4 a rise in global oil and fuel prices, a move seen as supporting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party in the crucial state assembly elections. Elections for five states, including the most populous Uttar Pradesh, ended on March 10th. Sales of gasoil, which accounts for about two-fifths of India’s total refined fuel consumption, is directly related to industrial activity in Asia’s third largest economy. India’s petrol sales have risen since the country eased pandemic lockdowns as people continue to prefer private vehicles to public transport for safety reasons. The state-run Indian Oil Corp, Hindustan Petroleum Corp. and BPCL own about 90% of the country’s gas stations.

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