Oil prices were flat to slightly lower on Monday after preliminary data showed India’s diesel consumption in April fell 10 percent and petrol 4 percent from pre-Covid level of April 2019 due to new restrictions to block spread of the coronavirus.
Sequentially, April diesel sales fell nearly 2 percent from March, when consumption had jumped 10 percent from February to 95 percent of the pre-pandemic level.
Benchmark Brent crude futures for July settlement slid 0.2 percent to $66.64 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate for June delivery were little changed at $63.58.
India is the world’s third-largest consumer behind the United States and China.
The country is in deep crisis, with hospitals and morgues overwhelmed, despite new infections showing a marginal dip for two days.
Analysts say that Covid-19 in India has not peaked and the country’s demand for transportation fuels will witness a sharper slump in May due to more restrictions.
On the positive side, traders remain optimistic about a strong rebound in demand in developed countries and China in the second half of the year.