NEW DELHI: India’s petrol consumption topped the pre-virus level for the first time in 17 months and diesel sales, a key indicator for economic activities, stood just 11% short of the pandemic year in July as the country got back to business after a second Covid wave.
Market data for the month shows state-run fuel retailers, who control 90% of the market, sold 3.5% more petrol than the same period of 2019. Diesel consumption also rose to 89% of the pre-pandemic level.
Compared to last year, petrol sales were 17% higher and diesel consumption 12%. On a monthly basis, July petrol sales was nearly 9% higher than June, while diesel sales fell less than 1% short.
IndianOil chairman Shrikant Madhav Vaidya expects diesel sales to reach the pre-pandemic level by Diwali but says jet fuel sales will take more time to recover fully.
Jet fuel consumption did show signs of recovery in July, climbing to 53% of the same period of 2019. Sequentially too, July sales were 21% higher than June as more people took to flying. Compared to last year, the sales were 29.5% higher.
Consumption of LPG, or cooking gas supplied in cylinders, too was back on the usual growth track, clocking 7.5% more sales than July 2019. Sequentially too, July sales rose 4% over June and 7.5% from the pre-pandemic year.
The robust recovery in fuel demand in the India, the world’s third-largest oil consumer, will support bullish sentiment in the international crude market.

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