India's fuel demand fell 3.6 per cent year-on-year in November, reversing the return to normal consumption levels attained in the previous month.
Total demand for petroleum products in November fell to 17.83 million tonnes from 18.51 million tonnes a year back, according to provisional data published by the oil ministry's Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell.
Fuel consumption, however, posted a month-on-month increase for the third straight month, helped by reviving transportation and business activity.
India consumed 17.75 million tonnes in October - the month in which fuel demand posted its first yearly increase since February as a spurt in diesel demand ahead of the festival season pushed consumption to pre-COVID-19 levels.
In October, the demand for petroleum products rose by 2.5 per cent when compared to the year-ago period.
While petrol had reached pre-COVID levels in September itself, diesel consumption returned to normal in October. However, its demand fell again in November.
Diesel demand, which had soared 7.4 per cent year-on-year in October, dropped 6.9 per cent in November to 7.04 million tonnes. Month-on-month, the demand slightly improved from 6.99 million tonnes.
Fuel demand had snipped by 49 per cent in April after a nationwide lockdown, imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus, shut industries and took most vehicles off-road.
The 69-day nationwide lockdown was followed by local and state-level restrictions. Restrictions have eased only slowly and in phases, while localised restrictions in containment zones remain.
The onset of the festive season has fuelled a rise in consumption, but public transport is not back to normal levels yet as schools and educational institutions continue to remain shut in most parts of the country.
Demand for naphtha, which is used as industrial fuel for generating electricity as well as producing petrochemicals, surged 7.7 per cent to 1.3 million tonnes in November.
This together with a rise in other industrial fuels such as fuel oil indicates the return of economic activity.
Also, bitumen, used in road construction, consumption jumped by 18 per cent to 6,92,000 tonnes.
LPG - the only fuel that showed growth even during the lockdown period on the back of the government giving free cooking gas to the poor - was up 4 per cent at 2.3 million tonnes. But month-on-month, it posted a 2.8 per cent fall.
Aviation turbine fuel or ATF sales almost halved to 3,72,000 tonnes as most airlines are yet to resume full operations. Month-on-month it improved by nearly 5 per cent.