(Bloomberg) -- Indian fuel consumption recovery largely held up in the first half of August, a rare positive for oil demand as the delta virus variant led to curbs on movement in other Asian markets including China.
Gasoline sales rose 3.7% in Aug. 1 to 15 from the same period in 2019, prior to the pandemic, according to preliminary data from India’s three biggest fuel retailers. Sales of diesel, meanwhile, fell 8% from 2019, an improvement from July when they were down 11%. The two fuels account for more than half of all sales of petroleum products in the country.
Indian Covid-19 cases have fallen sharply from a peak in May, leading to a pickup in fuel demand in the world’s third-biggest crude importer as restrictions on movement were loosened. It’s one of the few bright spots in Asia as the rapid spread of delta has led to renewed restrictions on mobility, most notably in the No. 1 crude buyer China.
See also: Gasoline Use Jumps as Cooped-Up Indian Drivers Hit the Roads
The recovery in India eased on a month-on-month basis, however. Gasoline and diesel sales fell 4.9% and 15%, respectively, from the same period in July. Consumption of diesel typically declines during this time of the year as monsoon rains hamper construction activities. Sales of jet fuel, however, jumped 25% from the previous month but were still down 45% from 2019.
Spokespeople at the three retailers -- Indian Oil Corp., Bharat Petroleum Corp., and Hindustan Petroleum Corp., -- declined to comment. The companies account for more than 90% of Indian fuel sales.
Here’s a table of the preliminary data:
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