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Indian oil demand in March eased m/m from a record high to 4.75 mb/d but was higher y/y by 62 thousand b/d despite a strong base. Light ends led the way, with combined gasoline, naphtha and LPG demand surging y/y by 0.16 mb/d. Support partly came from government measures, including a February promise of tax cuts and financial support worth $2.8 billion to the owners of 120 million small and medium-sized farms by 31 March. Gasoline demand rose by 48 thousand b/d y/y to a record high 0.71 mb/d in March despite car sales remaining weak (sales of passenger vehicles slid by 3% y/y in March based on data for the main auto manufacturers). Diesel demand was flat m/m at 1.80 mb/d in March, with y/y growth at 25 thousand b/d. Construction activity, supported by the government’s social housing project, remained the key diesel demand driver. Across Q1 19, cement demand rose by 9.5% y/y on strong construction activity, jet demand was 11 thousand b/d higher y/y on 15% y/y passenger growth, while kerosene demand logged its first y/y growth (by 2 thousand b/d) since August 2018.
Refinery runs were up m/m by 62 thousand b/d to a near record high 5.32 mb/d (+0.33 mb/d y/y) despite a 54 thousand b/d m/m increase in CDU maintenance. Runs in Q1 19 averaged 5.26 mb/d, higher y/y by 45 thousand b/d. We expect runs in April likely fell m/m, weighed on by an unplanned outage at HPCL’s Mumbai refinery since 8 April, and runs in May will be kept in check by planned works at Koyali and HPCL’s Mumbai refinery in May for around 20 days. Crude stocks fell by a sharp 0.15 mb/d, with Q1 19 draws averaging 40 thousand b/d, driven by low imports