India’s petrol sales reduced by 15.5 per cent and diesel demand shrunk by almost 24 per cent in March. This is the direct result as the economy froze under the nationwide lockdown announced to check the spread of COVID-19. Aviation turbine fuel (ATF) also fell by 31 per cent as flights got suspended owing to the shutting of businesses and most vehicular traffic going off-road.
According to provisional industry demand numbers, petrol sales dropped to 1.859 million tonnes in March from 2.2 million tonnes sold in the same month in 2019. Diesel which is the most consumed fuel in the country also faced a contraction in demand by 24.2 per cent to 4.8 million tonnes from 6.34 million tonnes in March 2019. In the similar fashion, ATF sales fell to 2.25 million tonnes from 2.185 million tonnes last year.
LPG was the only fuel that showed growth as households rushed to book refills for stocking during the three-week lockdown period. LPG sales rose 3.1 percent to 2.25 million tonnes in March from 2.185 million tonnes in the same month last year. According to Industry officials, the pattern in fuel consumption is most likely to continue in April as the lockdown is to last till mid of the month. There are also indications that part restrictions will continue even after the lockdown is lifted.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a 21-day lockdown beginning March 25, shutting offices and factories, barring those involved in essential services. Also, flights were suspended and vehicles went off the road as most people were asked to stay home to help check the spread of coronavirus.
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