Plummeting demand for diesel, gasoline, jet fuel and LPG questions previous forecasts
To date, India’s COVID-19 infections numbers are inching closer to 20 million with many pessimistic about the country’s economic recovery. Much to sources’ surprise, India’s diesel, gasoline, jet fuel and LPG demand all declined in April from a month earlier in the face of a record surge in COVID-19 infections, data from state-controlled refiners showed.
Reversed fuel demand trends surprise analysts
Diesel, India’s most-consumed fuel fell by 5 per cent, while gasoline and jet fuel demand declined by 11 per cent each and LPG usage by 7 per cent. Diesel use slipped to 1.47 million b/d April 2021 from 1.54mn b/d in March 2021 and 707, 000 b/d in 2020 when the country was in lockdown. Demand for fuel averaged 1.63 million b/d in April 2019 before the pandemic hit.
Gasoline demand averaged 603,000 b/d in April 2021, compared with 675,000 b/d in March 2021, 246,000 b/d in 2020 and 629,000 b/d in April 2019, according to the state-controlled refiners’ figures, which reflect 90 per cent of India’s fuel sales.
LPG demand, reversed the trend in the wider fuels market and increased last year during the pandemic, fell to 2.1 million tonnes in April 2021 from 2.26 million tonnes in March 2021, 2.11 million in 2020 and 1.89million tonnes in April 2019. Jet fuel demand averaged 99,000 b/d in April 2021 compared with 111,000 b/d in March 2021, 14,000 b/d in 2020 and 163,000 b/d in April 2019.
The oil ministry forecasted diesel use to surge by 13 per cent to 1.7 million b/d from April 2021-March 2022 as the Indian economy rebounds from the pandemic. The oil ministry also said gasoline use will average 726,000 b/d over the same period. Jet fuel demand is projected to rise by 74 per cent to 140,000 b/d and demand for LPG is projected to rise by 5 per cent to 29 million tonnes. Above all, these projections were made before the latest surge in infections.
India in dire straits
India is the world’s second most-infected nation after the United States, with cases close to 20 million. Many states imposed partial to total lockdowns until 15 May 2021. International flights are barred until end of May. Infections totalled 368,000 as at 2 May 2021, down from a record 400,000 last week because of the shutdowns.
A shortage of vaccines has hurt the country’s vaccination programme, with India’s private-sector Serum Institute, the world’s largest vaccine producer, expects the demand-supply gap to persist till July 2021. India’s Supreme Court is hearing a case brought against the government for allegedly violating constitutional provisions for vaccine pricing and supplies.