By Nidhi Verma
NEW DELHI - India's gasoil sales rose in October for the first time since the nation imposed COVID-19 restrictions in late March, preliminary data shows, signalling a pick-up in industrial activity ahead of key festivals.
Diesel sales by the country's three state fuel retailers rose 8.8% year on year in the first half of October, according to provisional data compiled by Indian Oil Corp, the country's biggest refiner and fuel retailer.
Sales of gasoil, which account for about two fifths of the country's overall fuel demand, totalled 2.65 million tonnes, up more than 24% from the previous month.
Rising diesel sales in the world's third-biggest oil consumer and importer would help refiners that have had to cut crude-processing runs during the coronavirus crisis, said an official at one of the state refiners, though he cautioned that diesel sales growth could be temporary.
"Typically, transportation of goods picks up ahead of festivals and dips during and after the key festivals. This year key festivals are towards the end of this month and early November; last year they were in October," he said.
Rising gasoline and gasoil demand in India should also aid other markets hit by slow demand recovery.
Gasoline sales rose 1.5% year on year to 982,000 tonnes in the first half of October, up 1.45% from the same period last month, the data showed.
"With demand in advanced economies on a declining trend, all of the increase comes from emerging market and developing economies, led by India," the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its World Energy Outlook 2020.
State companies IOC, Hindustan Petroleum Corp and Bharat Petroleum own about 90% of India's retail fuel outlets.
State retailers sold 7% more cooking gas in the first half of October than a year ago, at about 1.17 million tonnes, while jet fuel sales were down 57% at 135,000 tonnes.
(Reporting by Nidhi Verma in New Delhi; Editing by Tom Hogue and David Goodman)