News Code : 44400

Petrotahlil - India's bitumen consumption fell by 5pc to 6.3mn t in the 2019-20 financial year that ended 31 March, hit by tighter availability of funds for road construction.

Road building activity in India was also hit by an extended monsoon across several parts of the country last year.

Road works have halted since 25 March, when India implemented a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the Covid19 outbreak.

The impact of the epidemic helped send India's bitumen consumption down by 22pc from a month earlier and lower by 36pc year on year to 525,000t in March.

The fall in bitumen consumption corresponded with a decline in production, which dropped by 12pc to 4.8mn t in 2019-20. Production fell as state-controlled refiners upgraded units to prepare for the implementation of the Euro 6 gasoline standards on 1 April and 0.5pc sulphur specifications in marine fuel at the start of the year.

The fall in bitumen production was covered by a 50pc surge in imports to 1.2mn t in the latest financial year. Imports rose because of limited domestic availability of bitumen. Imports in March were 101,000t, flat with February but up by nearly 38pc from a year earlier.

But imports have slowed significantly since the lockdown was imposed, as high inventories and slow lifting of cargoes force vessels to wait to discharge. Bitumen inventory is expected to remain high, despite the curbs starting to ease, because of labour shortages for road projects.

Exports were at 23,000t in 2019-20, an increase of 11.6pc from a year earlier.

The outlook for India's bitumen consumption remains weak. The extended lockdown, imminent onset of the June-September monsoon season and limited availability of labour are likely to hit demand for the first half of the financial year.


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