India's October gasoline, gasoil sales exceed pre-coronavirus levels

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India’s gasoil consumption in October rose 6.6% from a year earlier, the first such increase since COVID-19 restrictions were imposed in late March, preliminary data showed on Sunday, signalling a pick-up in industrial activity.

FILE PHOTO: A worker holds a nozzle to pump petrol into a vehicle at a fuel station in Mumbai, India, May 21, 2018. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas

Diesel sales by the country's three state fuel retailers totalled 6.17 million tonnes in October, according to provisional data compiled by Indian Oil Corp IOC.NS (IOC), the country's biggest refiner and fuel retailer.

Sales of gasoil, which account for about two-fifths of India’s fuel demand, rose 27.5% from September.

Rising diesel sales in the world’s third-biggest oil consumer and importer should help refiners, who had to cut crude-processing runs during the coronavirus crisis.

IOC hopes to operate refineries at full capacity in a couple of months, up from 95% now, as local fuel demand is rising, company chairman S.M. Vaidya said on Friday. [nL4N2HL32W]

Rising gasoline and gasoil demand in India should also aid other markets hit by slow demand recovery.

Local gasoline sales in October rose above pre-pandemic levels for a second month in a row.

Gasoline sales rose 4% from a year earlier to about 2.4 million tonnes, about 8.6% higher than September, the data showed.

State companies IOC, Hindustan Petroleum Corp HPCL.NS and Bharat Petroleum BPCL.NS own about 90% of India's retail fuel outlets.

State retailers sold 3.8% more cooking gas in October than a year ago, at about 2.44 million tonnes, while jet fuel sales halved to 328,000 tonnes.

Reporting by Nidhi Verma; Editing by William Mallard