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 Wednesday.

Petrol sales of State-owned fuel retailers jumped 12 per cent to 2.57 million tonne in February, as compared to 2.29 million tonne in the same period of last year.

Sales were 1.57 per cent higher than in Covid-marred February 2021 and 20 per cent more than in the same period of 2020.

Month-on-month, the demand was up 13.5 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 sales

Diesel, the most used fuel in the country, posted a 13 per cent rise in sales during February to 6.52 million tonne, as compared to the same period last year.

Consumption was 12.1 per cent higher than February 2021 and 7.7 per cent more than the same month of 2020.

Month-on-month sales surged 9.2 per cent from 5.97 million tonne in January.

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

Trucks back on roads

Industry sources said diesel demand surged as trucks returned to roads and the rabi sowing season peaked. Use of the fuel in irrigation pumps and trucking helped build the momentum.

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

Opening of aviation sector

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 41 per cent to 574,200 tonne in February when compared to the same period last year. It was 41.3 per cent higher than February 2021 but 9.7 per cent lower than February 2020. Month-on-month sales were up 3.3 per cent.

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

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.

LPG consumption

Cooking gas (LPG) sales were up 2.43 per cent year-on-year at 2.53 million tonne in February. LPG consumption was 12 per cent higher than in February 2021 and 22.2 per cent more than in February 2020.

Month-on-month, the demand was up 6.14 per cent when compared to 2.38 million tonne of LPG consumption during January, the data showed.