NEW DELHI: India’s fuel consumption made a sharp turnaround in the first fortnight of September after doddering through the last two months, indicating the economy may finally be coming out of lockdown slumber but the rising number of Covid cases weighs on the momentum.
Latest government data show people consumed 2% more petrol in the first 15 days of September than they did in the comparative year-ago period, while diesel sales rose to 94% of the pre-Covid level, jumping 19% from August.
Diesel is a key indicator of economic activities as it is mainly used by the transport, construction and farm sectors. Sales had risen sharply after the government began lifting curbs in June but faltered in July and August due to widespread monsoon rains, floods and local lockdowns in industrialised states. In August, diesel consumption had slipped 12% from July to fall 21% short of the pre-Covid level.
September jet fuel sales grew 15% from August but still remains 60% below the pre-covid level as flight services, especially to overseas destinations, except under air bubbles, are yet to resume.
LPG continued to post healthy gains, rising 12% over the year-ago volumes. On a month-on-month basis too, sales grew 13% from August. LPG consumption had been growing through the lockdown as families remained confined to heir homes, leading to more cooking.
Petrol sales have been boosted by more people stepping out and prefering to use personal vehicles to get around. This has also led to a 14% increase in August car sales and 3% in two-wheelers, further pushing fuel consumption.
Industry executives expect fuel consumption to rise further as the monsoon recedes, construction projects resume and the festival season begins in October.
“More people will venture out as the states cut more slack and people get into the festive mood. There will be more air and passengers, which will boost taxi service. The industrial supply chain is also expected to find its rhythm. All these factors will translate into higherdemand for fuels,” a senior marketing executive with a state-run oil company said.

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