Indian oil demand recovered in February, rising by 31 thousand b/d y/y (largely due to a very high base) to a record 4.43 mb/d, as the negative effects of demonetisation faded. LPG led demand growth, rising by 52 thousand b/d to yet another record of 0.76 mb/d, supported by persistently cold temperatures. Gasoline demand also rose, higher y/y by 37 thousand b/d to 0.58 mb/d, the highest monthly reading since October 2016. Vehicle sales continued to expand in February, with passenger vehicle sales up by 9% and commercial vehicle sales up by 7.3% y/y. Diesel demand continued to fall y/y in February, although declines slowed to just 8 thousand b/d y/y, taking demand to 1.66 mb/d due to support from a slight recovery in construction activity. Cement production, closely aligned to construction activity, is slowly recovering, rising for two consecutive months on the latest data for January. Naphtha demand rose to its highest level since May 2015 at 0.36 mb/d in February, higher y/y by 27 thousand b/d. Jet/kero demand fell y/y for a fifth consecutive month, down by 28 thousand b/d to 0.26 mb/d as rising residential LPG connections continue to displace domestic demand for kerosene. Finally, fuel oil demand slipped by 9 thousand b/d y/y to 0.12 mb/d.
Refinery runs were unchanged m/m at 4.99 mb/d, higher y/y by 60 thousand b/d as declines in throughput at both Manali (-79 thousand b/d m/m) and BPCL Mumbai (-28 thousand b/d) were offset by record runs at Kochi (+38 thousand b/d m/m). The upcoming Bharat IV spec change in April is capping runs in the near term and could lead to higher imports of 50 ppm material during the initial adjustment period. Crude imports were flat y/y at 4.27 mb/d, and Reliance lifted more Brazilian heavy crudes—Roncador and Peregrino. Crude stocks were flat.