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December diesel demand crawls up to 97% of pre-pandemic level

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NEW DELHI: India’s diesel consumption continued to cover slack in December but still remained 3% less than the same month of 2019, indicating the economy is gradually coming out of the woods.
Diesel consumption, one of the key barometers of economic activity, had fallen 7% from the year-ago period in November after shooting past the pre-pandemic level for the first time in eight months in October by clocking a 6% year-on-year growth.
In contrast, petrol demand during the month more or less maintained the pace of annual growth at 8.7%, a tad below 9% seen in November on the back of holiday driving and positive sentiment in the car market.
December sales data of public sector retailers, who command about 90% of the market, show jet fuel also covering ground to remain 43% less than December 2019 as overseas flights faced fresh curtailments.
On a month-on-month basis, however, sales in jumped 11% from November level on the back of rising domestic travel by air for holidays. November jet fuel sales were down more than 48% from the same month of 2019.
LPG, or common household cooking gas, showed a 7.6% growth in annual demand during December, or more than double of November sales, as the temperature plummeted across north and east India.
The gradual recovery in demand for all fuels boosted refiners, with state-run IndianOil, the country’s largest refiner and fuel retailer, last month cranking up operations at all its refineries to 100%.

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