Huge rise in coronavirus cases hit India's April fuel demand

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

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  • India's April gasoline sales at 2.14 mln T, gasoil 5.9 mln T
  • Gasoline sales down 13.5% from March, -4.1% from April 2019
  • Gasoil sales down 7.9% from March, -9.9% from April 2019
  • Officials expect fuel consumption to start rising from June

NEW DELHI, May 1 (Reuters) - Indian state refiners' local fuel sales in April declined due to state-level restrictions aimed at stemming a rampant second wave of coronavirus infections, preliminary data shows.

The deadly second wave topped 400,000 new daily cases for the first time on Saturday.

Authorities reported 401,993 new cases in the previous 24 hours, the highest daily count globally, after 10 consecutive days over 300,000. Deaths from COVID-19 jumped by 3,523, taking the total toll in India to 211,853. read more

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"Overall fuel demand is down by about 7% from pre-covid level of April 2019," said A.K. Singh, head of marketing at refiner Bharat Petroleum Corp (BPCL.NS).

"We were near pre-covid level in March but new restrictions and covid wave-2 has temporarily reduced demand equivalent to about 10% of March demand for both personal mobility and industrial goods movement," Singh told Reuters.

He said the local fuel consumption will 'start to look up' in June, by when second wave of coronavirus is expected to weaken.

Analysts are expecting India's demand for transportation fuels to witness a sharper slump in May due to more impending restrictions.

Declining fuel sales will reduce crude intake by refiners. The country's top refiner Indian Oil Corp (IOC.NS) is operating refineries at an average 95% capacity. read more

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

State retailers' fuel sales in April declined from their sales in March and April 2019 levels, while posting a sharp rise from the year ago month when there was a nation-wide lockdown.

Below is the table of India' preliminary fuel sales data with volumes in thousand tonnes.

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Reporting by Nidhi Verma; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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