India's petrol and diesel sales soared in May as agriculture demand picked up and cars yanked up air-conditioning with the onset of summer, preliminary industry data showed on Thursday.

Demand for diesel, the most consumed fuel in the country accounting for about two-fifths of the demand, soared 9.3 per cent to 7.46 million tonne in May compared to the year-ago period.

In April, diesel demand had risen 6.7 per cent year-on-year and the consumption in May was better than that.

Month-on-month sales rose 4.2 per cent when compared with 7.16 million tonne of diesel consumed in April.

Petrol sales rose 10.4 per cent to 3.08 million tonne in May 2023 when compared with the same period last year. Sales were up 16.5 per cent month-on-month, the data showed.

Petrol and diesel sales have been on the rise from the second half of March on the back of a pick-up in industrial and agriculture activity. In the first half of March, petrol sales had fallen 1.4 per cent and diesel 10.2 per cent year-on-year.

And consumption soared in May as air-conditioning needs rose with a rise in temperature.

Consumption of petrol last month was 72 per cent more than COVID-marred May 2021 and 23.7 per cent more than pre-pandemic May 2019.

Diesel consumption was up 52.5 per cent over May 2021 and 6.8 per cent higher than in May 2019.

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

Reflecting the trend, jet fuel (ATF) demand jumped 8.7 per cent to 609,800 tonne during May when compared to the same period last year. It was 137.3 per cent higher than in May 2021 but 5.3 per cent lower than pre-Covid May 2019.

Month-on-month sales fell 0.7 per cent when compared with 613,900 tonne in April 2023.

Rabi crops, mostly wheat, barley, mustard, sesame and peas, are sown between October and December, and harvested from April to June. Wheat harvesting leads to a rise in diesel demand as harvesters and tractors run on that fuel.

The Indian economy has gained pace with a pick-up in government and private capital spending. Manufacturing too has picked up while the services sector has been robust. The country's oil demand was supported by strong industrial activity, industry officials said.

In terms of products, diesel was the main driver of oil demand as there was a pick-up in the agriculture sector, as well as requirements for power generation and industry. Use of the fuel in irrigation pumps and trucking supported diesel, they said.

Cooking gas LPG sales soared almost 10 per cent year-on-year to 2.4 million tonne in May. LPG consumption was 13 per cent higher than in May 2021 and 19.6 per cent more than pre-Covid May 2019.

Month-on-month, the demand rose 11.3 per cent when compared to 2.19 million tonne of LPG consumption during April, the data showed.