Indian oil demand recovered in December 2018 and rose to a six-month high of 4.66 mb/d, higher y/y by 0.15 mb/d. Demand for the four main products bounced m/m in December, led by gasoline. Combined y/y growth totalled 0.11 mb/d, with gasoline 60 thousand b/d higher y/y at 0.66 mb/d, even as passenger vehicle sales fell by 3% y/y despite steep discounts and low gasoline prices. The sales fall is due to weak consumer sentiment exacerbated by credit tightening by NBFCs. Diesel demand recovered from November’s steep fall to hit 1.78 mb/d in December, but it was just 46 thousand b/d higher y/y. Construction demand was lacklustre due to slower approvals for real estate projects and lack of timely payments to contractors by state governments, but it is now picking up thanks to support from government initiatives ahead of the spring general election. Jet/kero combined demand was flat m/m at 0.25 mb/d in December (+4 thousand b/d y/y), with jet demand up y/y by 16 thousand b/d. LPG demand recovered after November's decline (+43 thousand b/d y/y), while naphtha demand rose by 35 thousand b/d y/y. The outlook for H2 19 Indian oil demand growth is uncertain amid the Modi government’s fading popularity, which may result in a coalition in the next elections and lead to policy paralysis.
Refinery runs fell m/m to 5 mb/d (-0.26 mb/d y/y). Reliance’s domestic Jamnagar refinery currently has CDU 2 offline for a month of works from 16 January, while CDU 1 is due for works in April/May—each has 0.33 mb/d capacity. Domestic output fell again in December, but crude stocks built by a hefty 10 mb as imports rose by 0.4 mb/d m/m to 4.62 mb/d.