News

LPG distributors shift focus to rural demand as urban orders plateau

Twesh Mishra New Delhi | Updated on April 07, 2020 Published on April 07, 2020

Commercial bookings takes a hit with Covid-19 lockdown

LPG distributors are now shifting focus to rural and Ujjwala consumers as the demand for cooking gas tapers in urban areas amidst the 21-day COVID-19 lockdown.

Demand for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG or cooking gas) had shot up when the 21-day nationwide lockdown was announced. Consumers resorted to panic-buying and pre-booked cylinders, fearing that LPG supplies would be disrupted during the lockdown.

“There was a delay of two days when we initially booked a cylinder refill. It seems that there was too much rush and the distributor also said that he was facing issues getting supplies. But the refill cylinder arrived and there have been no issues since,” Tejveer Singh Kalsi, a Bharat Gas consumer in Lucknow told BusinessLine.

LPG is categorised as an essential commodity and therefore allowed to be distributed during the lockdown.

This approach significantly pushed up demand for cooking gas refills (usually for 14.2 kg cylinders used in households). To regulate the surge, public sector undertaking (PSU) oil companies has restricted refills to once in 15 days for each consumer.

“There is ample supply of petroleum products in the country. As far as LPG supplies are concerned, everything is absolutely under control, we have enough stocks in the country and supply lines are functioning efficiently. There is absolutely no need to panic,” Sanjiv Singh, Chairman, IndianOil, had said in a video message.

Chandra Prakash, President, All India LPG Distributors Federation, said that there was a spurt in LPG demand when the lockdown was declared. On average, LPG demand was up 25-30 per cent. In some areas, it was higher than that. “But then as supplies reached consumers, the demand for fresh refills tapered,” he added.

According to Prakash, there is now (during April) a dip in fresh refills as most consumers are yet to finish the cooking gas cylinders that were supplied to them last month. “There was panic-buying, but the government, companies and distributors managed it adequately. Most cylinder reached recipients within 48 hours of being booked,” he said.

The demand for commercial LPG cylinders (19 kg) has taken a hit because of the Covid-19 lockdown. “Commercial demand for LPG cylinders is down to just 5-10 per cent. Those still buying commercial cylinders are take-away restaurants and government establishments like hospitals and essential services. Some private consumers who are still buying are involved in manufacturing essential goods like masks, sanitisers and food processing,” Prakash said.

Manpower issues

The distributors are also facing some issues with manpower migrating from urban settlements.

“Yes, there has been a manpower shortage as 20-30 per cent labourers opted to leave for their home towns from metro cities. But it seems that the urban demand for LPG has been satiated, and now the focus is on supplying LPG cylinders to PMUY (Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana – providing LPG connections to women in BPL families) beneficiaries. This will easily make up for the dip in demand that is being noticed in April. There shouldn’t be a manpower shortage as there is lesser noticeable migration from rural India.”

Published on April 07, 2020

A letter from the Editor


Dear Readers,

The coronavirus crisis has changed the world completely in the last few months. All of us have been locked into our homes, economic activity has come to a near standstill. Everyone has been impacted.

Including your favourite business and financial newspaper. Our printing and distribution chains have been severely disrupted across the country, leaving readers without access to newspapers. Newspaper delivery agents have also been unable to service their customers because of multiple restrictions.

In these difficult times, we, at BusinessLine have been working continuously every day so that you are informed about all the developments – whether on the pandemic, on policy responses, or the impact on the world of business and finance. Our team has been working round the clock to keep track of developments so that you – the reader – gets accurate information and actionable insights so that you can protect your jobs, businesses, finances and investments.

We are trying our best to ensure the newspaper reaches your hands every day. We have also ensured that even if your paper is not delivered, you can access BusinessLine in the e-paper format – just as it appears in print. Our website and apps too, are updated every minute, so that you can access the information you want anywhere, anytime.

But all this comes at a heavy cost. As you are aware, the lockdowns have wiped out almost all our entire revenue stream. Sustaining our quality journalism has become extremely challenging. That we have managed so far is thanks to your support. I thank all our subscribers – print and digital – for your support.

I appeal to all or readers to help us navigate these challenging times and help sustain one of the truly independent and credible voices in the world of Indian journalism. Doing so is easy. You can help us enormously simply by subscribing to our digital or e-paper editions. We offer several affordable subscription plans for our website, which includes Portfolio, our investment advisory section that offers rich investment advice from our highly qualified, in-house Research Bureau, the only such team in the Indian newspaper industry.

A little help from you can make a huge difference to the cause of quality journalism!

Support Quality Journalism
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor
You have read 1 out of 3 free articles for this week. For full access, please subscribe and get unlimited access to all sections.