Latest industry data showed August petrol sales rising to 2,140 tmt (thousand metric tonnes), an increase of 6% from the July volume, as more curbs were eased and people increasingly opted for personal vehicles to get around. Similarly, jet fuel sales rebounded to 238 tmt, or 8% higher than a month ago, as the number of flights increased.
But diesel sales, a key indicator of economic activity since it is mainly used in the farm, transport and construction sectors, dropped to 4,257 tmt, or 12% lower than July.
According to Hindustan Petroleum chairman M K Surana, diesel sales remained affected because industrial activity was not yet back fully and flow of material and products needed to stabilise after the ready stocks were gone. “There is no leisure travel. Low flight and train operations means lesser use of taxis by travellers,” he told TOI recently.
Once the lockdown was eased in June, petrol sales jumped to 83% and diesel to 85% of their year-ago levels. Jet fuel sales, however, remained subdued at 32% of June 2019 level due to limited flight operations. But July saw diesel sales dropping to 75% and petrol 83% of their year-ago levels. Jet fuel sales gained marginal ground at 35% of the year-ago period.
Industry watchers said the recovery from 50% to 80-90% was quick but it would take some time to reach 100%.