European fuel demand rising, remains below pre-COVID19 levels

LONDON (Reuters) - Fuel demand across Europe is staging a gradual recovery after hitting record lows at the height of coronavirus lockdown measures in April, but it remains well below normal levels for this time of year, data from several countries shows.

Britain’s road fuel sales rose 3% in the week to Sunday but remain at 66% of levels in a typical pre-lockdown week, government data showed on Thursday.

In the week to June 14, sales averaged 11,717 litres per filling station, up 3.2% from the previous week, the data showed.

(GRAPHIC - UK Road Fuel Sales: )

The “experimental” data from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy samples sales of gasoline and diesel from about 4,500 filling stations across the country.

In the eight weeks March 23, when the lockdown to stem the spread of the new coronavirus was introduced, average daily road fuel sales were at 17,690 litres per filling station.

In the 12 weeks from March 23, average sales stood at 8,510 litres, 48% of average levels of the eight previous weeks, according to the data.

In Italy, oil products consumption in May stood at 3.64 million tonnes, up 36% from April but still 28.5% below levels at the same time last year.

The data also showed that jet fuel consumption was recovering at a much slower pace than diesel and gasoline.

In Spain, the country’s leading fuel distributor said that gasoline and diesel withdrawals in the week to June 14 were 34% and 25% down respectively from the same week last year. The figures show a significant improvement from April, when gasoline and diesel withdrawals were 79% and 57% respectively.

The International Energy Agency said that European oil demand fell by 690,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the first quarter and 3.3 million bpd in the second quarter. It expects the fall in demand to slow to 1.3 million bpd and 570,000 bpd in the third and fourth quarters respectively.

(GRAPHIC - Europe Gasoline, Gasoil/Diesel Demand: )

Reporting by Ahmad Ghaddar; Editing by David Goodman