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India’s March Fuel Consumption Reached A Three-Year High, With Petrol Sales Reaching An All-Time Peak

TNI || New Delhi || 12th April 2022

Demand for fuel in India reached a three-year high in March, with petrol sales at an all-time high.

The market built up stocks in anticipation of higher prices, even though the country’s post-pandemic economic growth is still positive.

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According to data from the country’s oil ministry’s Petroleum Planning and Analysis Unit, as of April 9, fuel consumption, a proxy for oil demand, increased 4.2 percent from the same month in 2021 to 19.41 million tonnes, the highest ever since 2019 March.

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According to UBS analyst Giovanni Staunovo, March oil consumption was boosted by stockpiling and hoarding in anticipation of higher petrol and diesel prices later in the month.

As per initial results released this month, Indian state refiners’ gasoil and gasoline sales soared in March, owing to increasing demand from dealers and customers ahead of a likely sharp increase in retail prices following critical state elections.

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This (increased prices) would certainly weigh on demand forecasts in the near term, Staunovo said, but with the economy still developing, oil consumption is likely to persist and rebound in the coming months.

According to data dating back to 1998, gasoline, or fuel, sales were 6.2 percent higher than a year ago at 2.91 million tonnes, the highest level ever recorded.

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India has resorted to Russian barrels, which are available at a significant discount, to offset growing oil import costs, citing “national interests.”

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According to Reuters calculations as of last week, Indian refiners have purchased at least 16 million barrels of discounted Russian oil for May loading on a delivered basis, equivalent to orders for the entire year of 2021.

While Russian oil imports have kept India’s economy on track as it recovers from a severe recession, India must tread lightly politically, says Jeffrey Halley, OANDA’s chief market analyst.