Indian Guzzlers Are Back as Diesel Thirst Exceeds Year-Ago Level

Indian diesel sales registered the first year-on-year gain since the nation imposed a complete lockdown at the end of March as demand for the country’s most-consumed fuel climbed ahead of annual festivals.

Sales by India’s top three fuel retailers rose 8.8% from a year earlier during the first half of October to 2.65 million tons, according to preliminary figures from officials with direct knowledge of the matter. Volumes sold were also 24% higher than the same period in September, the data showed.

It’s the first year-on-year gain for the first half of a month since Bloomberg started compiling the figures in April at the peak of the virus-driven demand crash. February was the last monthly increase.

India’s rebound in diesel consumption has lagged gasoline as people opted for their own cars and scooters over public transport to avoid being infected by the virus, with the country’s confirmed cases above 7 million. However, the start of the nation’s two main festivals this month along with crop harvesting activities is expected to drive up much-needed demand for the industrial fuel.

Gasoline sales in the same period rose 1.6% from a year earlier to 981,900 tons, according to data from the officials who asked not to be named because they’re not authorized to speak to media. Volumes were up 1.5% from the previous month. Liquefied petroleum gas also posted yearly and monthly gains.

Indian Oil Corp., Bharat Petroleum Corp. and Hindustan Petroleum Corp., which account for more than 90% of the nation’s fuel sales, declined to comment.

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