• India on course for lowest fuel demand growth in 6 years

    Growth in demand for fuel in India is on course to fall to its lowest in at least six years as the economy slows and after heavy rains impacted gasoil consumption, which accounts for about two-fifth of the nation’s overall fuel use.

    In the fiscal year to March 2019, fuel demand rose by 3.4 per cent, the lowest in five years.

    During April-September, consumption of refined fuels – a proxy for oil demand – rose 1.4 percent from a year ago, according to government data.

    “It means in the next few months (in this fiscal year) fuel demand need to grow by 3 per cent-4 percent to reach last year’s levels, which looks unlikely,” M.K Surana, chairman of state-run Hindustan Petroleum Corp told a news conference.

    HPCL controls about a quarter of India’s retail fuel market.

    Slowing economic and industrial activity has already led some global agencies to cut their fuel demand forecast for India.

    The International Energy Agency expects oil consumption growth to drop to 170,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2019, the slowest since 2014.

    Asia’s third-largest economy expanded by just 5 per cent in the June quarter, its slowest pace since 2013, and the International Monetary Fund has cut its growth forecast for this fiscal year to 6.1 per cent from an initial 7 per cent.

    Industrial output shrank at its fastest rate in more than six years in August, and passenger vehicle sales slumped 23.7 per cent in September, the eleventh straight month of declines.

    “Diesel (growth) is a concern, petrol is not,” Surana said, adding gasoil demand should pick up now because the monsoon season was over.

    Heavy rains impact road transportation, construction and industrial activity and, by extension, demand for diesel.

    Surana said lower demand for diesel has dragged down overall fuel demand growth, notwithstanding rising consumption of liquefied petroleum gas, jet fuel and gasoline.

    In April-September, annual diesel demand grew by just 1 per cent while gasoline demand rose by 9 per cent.

    Last year, diesel demand grew by 3 per cent. “Definitely I don’t think it will be 3 per cent in this year, it will be lower than that”, Surana said.

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