Fuel Demand Rebounds in June
Petrol prices hiked again by 35 paise, diesel by 26 paise
India’s fuel demand rebounded in June after slumping to a nine-month low in June as restrictions to curb the spread of the pandemic were eased, helping economic activity and mobility to regain.
Fuel consumption rose 1.5 per cent to 16.33 million tonnes in June from a year earlier and by 8 per cent over May 2021, data from the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas showed.
Petrol sales rose 5.6 per cent year-on-year to 2.4 million tonnes in June. It was up 21 per cent from May sales of 1.99 million tonnes. Diesel – the most used fuel in the country – rose 12 per cent from May to 6.2 million tonnes, but was down 1.5 per cent from June 2020 and 18.8 per cent from June 2019. This is the first monthly increase since March.
Petrol prices on Saturday crossed the Rs 100-per-litre mark in some places in Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Nagaland after fuel prices were hiked the ninth time in a month. Petrol price was hiked by 35 paise per litre and diesel by 26 paise, according to a price notification of state-owned fuel retailers. This took the fuel prices across the country to a fresh high.
Earlier this week, Oil Minister Hardeep Singh Puri refused to comment on the issue unless he was fully briefed. “Give me some time. I need to be briefed on the issues,” he had said soon after taking charge of the ministry on July 8. “It will be very wrong for me to comment on it (fuel prices) when I have just stepped into this building.”
Fuel prices differ from state to state depending on the incidence of local taxes such as value-added tax (VAT) and freight charges.
Fuel demand had recovered to near-normal levels in March before the onset of the second wave of Covid-19 infections led to the re-imposition of lockdowns in different states, stalling mobility and muting economic activity. Consumption in May slumped to its lowest since August last year amid lockdowns and restrictions in several states. Fuel demand showed signs of resurgence in June after restrictions began to be eased and the economy gathered pace.
With the Covid case additions continuing to decline and vaccination picking up, state governments have continued to reopen, though some exceptions such as Maharashtra exist.
Former Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan had last month stated that India’s fuel demand would recover to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2021. “We are confident by the end of this calendar year we will be in a position to restore our original (pre-Covid) consumption behaviour,” he said.
Consumption of LPG, the only fuel which showed growth even during the first lockdown because of free supplies by the government to the poor, rose 9.7 per cent year-on-year to 2.26 million tonnes. It was up 26.3 per cent over June 2019.
With airlines yet to resume full-scale operations because of travel restrictions around the globe, jet fuel sales at 2,58,000 tonnes was up 16.2 per cent year on year but 61.7 per cent lower than June of 2019.