India's fuel demand witnessed the sharpest rebound in February as petrol and diesel consumption rose by double digits after a winter lull in the previous month, preliminary industry data showed on Thursday.

Petrol sales jumped almost 18 per cent to 1.22 million tonnes (mt) in the first half of February, as compared to 1.04 mt in the same period last year.

Sales were 18.3 per cent higher than in Covid-marred first half of February 2021 and 15.7 per cent more than in the same period of 2020.

Month-on-month, the demand was up 13.6 per cent, reversing the dip in the previous month. Sales had fallen 5.1 per cent month-on-month in January as cold conditions cut vehicular movement.

Diesel demand

Diesel, the most used fuel in the country, posted a near 25 per cent rise in sales during February 1-15 to 3.33 mt, as compared to the same period last year.

Consumption was up 16.7 per cent over the first half of February 2021 and 7 per cent higher than 2020.

Month-on-month sales surged 10.3 per cent from 3.01 mt in the first half of January.

In January, diesel consumption fell 8.6 per cent month-on-month basis as snowfall in higher reaches halted truck movement.

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The rebound in sales is the sharpest.

Industry sources said diesel demand surged as trucks returned to roads and there was a pick up in the agriculture sector. The use of the fuel in irrigation pumps and trucking helped build the momentum generated.

January sales were lower month-on-month also because the previous month had seen a surge in consumption due to vacation travel.

Air travel

With the continued opening of the aviation sector, India's overall passenger traffic at airports inched closer to pre-Covid-19 levels.

Reflecting the trend, jet fuel (ATF) demand jumped 43.7 per cent to 2,94,000 tonnes during the first half of February when compared to the same period last year. It was 35.6 per cent higher than February 2021 but 12.8 per cent lower than February 2020. Month-on-month sales were up 4.22 per cent.

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Sources said while domestic air travel is back to pre-Covid levels, international traffic is lagging because of continued restrictions in some countries.

Steady rise

India's recovery has continued to gain momentum in recent months but has been accompanied by elevated inflation. This slowed the momentum a bit. The country's oil demand had been rising steadily since the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

Cooking gas LPG sales were up 4.1 per cent year-on-year at 1.39 mt in February 1-15. LPG consumption was 14.7 per cent higher than in February 2021 and 20.9 per cent more than in February 2020.

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Month-on-month, the demand was up nearly 12 per cent when compared to 1.24 mt of LPG consumption during January 1-15, the data showed.