New Delhi, June 1
India’s petrol and diesel sales soared in May on the back of a surge in summer travel to escape from the heat and vacation during annual breaks at educational institutions, preliminary industry data showed on Wednesday.
Petrol sales by state-owned fuel retailers, which control roughly 90 per cent of the market, at 2.8 million tonnes in May was 55.7 per cent higher than the same period last year when a devastating second COVID-19 wave wreaked havoc on the economy.
This consumption was 76 per cent higher than the demand in May 2020 and 12 per cent more than 2.5 million tonnes of sales in the pre-COVID May 2019. Month-on-month sales were up 8.2 per cent, as per the preliminary data.
Diesel, the most-used fuel in the country, saw sales jumping 39.4 per cent year-on-year to 6.82 million tonnes in May. This was, however, 2.3 per cent lower than sales in May 2019. It was 1.8 per cent higher than 6.7 million tonnes of consumption during April this year.
Industry sources said consumption in May is higher because of demand returning after high prices in the previous month impacted sales. Also aiding the demand was the start of the harvesting season.
Another factor was the low base effect. April saw consumption drop due to a Rs 10 per litre hike in petrol and diesel prices after an over four-month hiatus.
But the biggest factor seemed to be an increase in travel to colder regions to escape from record temperatures and utilise annual breaks at schools, they said.
The government had on March 25, 2020, imposed a nationwide lockdown to control the spread of coronavirus. The complete lockdown, which halted mobility and crippled business, was slowly eased after two months.
Cooking gas, whose prices were hiked by Rs 103.50 per cylinder since March, saw sales rising by a marginal 1.48 per cent to 2.19 million tonnes. This was 4.8 per cent lower than the consumption in May 2020 when the government extended free cooking gas to the poor to help them tide over the hardships of the lockdown.
LPG consumption was 7.6 per cent more than May 2019 demand but marginally lower than the 2.21 million tonnes of sales in April 2022.
Jet fuel (ATF) sales more than doubled to 540,200 tonnes as the aviation sector opened up after two years. ATF consumption was 401 per cent more than May 2020 but 16.1 per cent lower than the pre-COVID sales of 644,000 tonnes in May 2019. Month-on-month sales were up 7.5 per cent.