India’s fuel consumption in March decreased by 18%, the biggest decline in over a decade as the government suspended transportation and imposed a 21-day nationwide lockdown to control the spread of coronavirus, PTI reported.
India’s petroleum product consumption fell 17.79% to 16.08 million tonnes in March as the demand for diesel, petrol and aviation turbine fuel reduced, according to official data.
The demand for diesel, which is the most consumed fuel in the country, reduced by 24.23% to 5.65 million tonnes. This is the biggest fall in the country’s diesel consumption after 90% of the trucks went off-road.
Petrol sales dropped 16.37% to 2.15 million tonnes with most cars and two-wheelers being off the roads due to the travel restrictions.
Indian refiners, however, are likely to continue prompt export of fuels for at least another two weeks to avoid a complete shutdown, according to a Reuters report on Tuesday.
India’s fuel consumption is likely to recover over the next 10-15 days as recent steps by the government, including movement of trucks to carry non-essential items will boost demand, R. Ramachandran, head of refineries at Bharat Petroleum, told the news agency. He added that it is essential for Indian refiners to consider exports. “In order to operate the refineries above the turndown levels and to balance the refinery runs and the inventory build up, it is essential for us to look at selective exports.”
The government has suspended all trains, buses and flights under the nationwide lockdown to control the pandemic. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in India rose to 5,734 on Thursday. The toll in the country is now 166, according to the health ministry.