Fuel sales drop during lockdown

Yeshey Lhadon

Bhutan saved Nu 3.29 million (M) on petrol, Nu 13.3M on diesel, Nu 0.10M on kerosene and Nu 0.02M on subsidised LPG during the 21-day nationwide lockdown as a result of the vehicular movement restrictions.

The mobility restriction on vehicles during the lockdown led to a sharp fall in the consumption of petroleum products.

Fuel stations nationwide sold 382 kilolitres(KL) of Petrol (MS), 1,116.98KL of diesel (HSD), 17.91KL of kerosene (SKO), 26,189 numbers of subsidised liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and 9,324 cylinders of non-subsidised LPG during the 21-day nationwide lockdown.

Petrol sales dropped by 79.6 percent and diesel, the most consumed fuel, saw a drop in the sale by 84.4 percent.

Similarly, kerosene consumption reduced by 84.5 percent, the sale of subsidised liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) fell by 2.6 percent.

On the contrary, the sale of non-subsidised LPG increased by 40.3 percent during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The average daily sale of petrol reduced by about 71KL, diesel by 289KL, kerosene by 4.7KL and subsidised LPG by 32 numbers. The non-subsidised LPG rose by 179 numbers during the lockdown.

A program analyst with Department of Trade (DoT), Tshering, said that the POL section expected to see the reduction in the sale of all petroleum products during lockdown. He said, “The increase in the sale of LPG must have resulted because people are panic buying and probably they are hoarding.”

During normal days DoT issues only 15 LPG cylinders to each delivery agent. However, DoT issued 30 cylinders to gas delivery service providers to ensure uninterrupted supply.

Bhutan Oil Distributions (BOD) depot at Lungtenzampa in Thimphu, which is one of the busiest fuel stations and manned by 29 employees, usually sells an average of 11KL of petrol and 15KL of diesel daily.

The BOD manager, Thukten Norbu said that the fuel station couldn’t sell more than 2KL of petrol and 4KL of diesel a day during the lockdown.

The depot sold about 61KL of petrol and 83KL of diesel during the lockdown, out of which almost 6KL of petrol and 58KL of diesel are availed by vehicles holding fuel book.

“The demand remained low until August 8. We hope the sales of POL will pick up when the vehicles start plying again,” said Thukten.

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