Jet fuel and LPG have turned out to be the shining stars in India's oil demand baske
t so far in 2017 as rapidly growing air travel and New Delhi's clean fuel energy push are helping the two fuels to post the sharpest growth rates among all oil products.
As air travel continues to grow amid intensifying competition among airlines offering competitive fares, jet fuel demand rose by 9.5% year on year in April, to 610,000 mt from 557,000 mt from a year earlier, according to data from the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell.
In the cumulative January-April period, jet fuel demand surged 12% year on year to 2.46 million mt from 2.19 million mt a year earlier.
"While demonetization has affected consumption of some oil products, it has not affected air travel because most air tickets are booked using credit cards. Not much cash is involved. Therefore, jet fuel demand remains robust, said Tushar Bansal, director at Ivy Global Energy, a Singapore-based oil and gas consultancy.
India announced the scrapping of 1,000 and 500 rupee notes with immediate effect on November 8, 2016, in a move aimed at curtailing the shadow economy but which also led to a slowdown in demand for various commodities over the following months.
According to CAPA - Centre for Aviation, an independent provider of market intelligence for the aviation sector, India is likely to overtake Japan in 2017 to become the world's third-largest domestic aviation market, behind the United States and China.
In reaching this milestone, India will have achieved average domestic annual traffic growth of over 15% since the liberalization of the sector commenced in 2003-04 (April-March).
While domestic traffic could grow by nearly 25% in 2017-18 (April-March) and approach 130 million passengers, international travel could growth by about 10%-12%, CAPA added. Strong economic fundamentals have contributed to the growth, although traffic has been over-stimulated by low fares.
"India's status as the fastest growing aviation market in the world creates tremendous opportunities. But risks are also heightened as the inadequacy of India's infrastructure planning, a fast emerging shortage of skills, flawed policy initiatives, and weak regulatory oversight threaten to become major stumbling blocks," according to a CAPA report on India's aviation outlook.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that in the global civil aviation market, India, which is currently the eighth-largest market in the world, would become the third-largest by 2034, adding that growth in the aviation sector would multiply demand for aviation fuel in India four times by 2040.
Rising domestic demand is taking a toll on India's jet fuel exports as more cargoes find their way into local markets. Jet fuel exports in the first quarter of 2017 fell almost 12% year on year to 1.75 million mt, from 1.99 million mt in Q1 2016.
Market participants expect India's jet fuel exports to maintain a downward trend as domestic demand is expected to remain robust in the foreseeable future.
LPG SPREADS ITS WINGS
While LPG demand grew by only 2.6% year on year in April to 1.63 million mt, from 1.59 million mt a year earlier, it has been the second-fastest growing fuel this year, with demand rising by 6.1% year on year to 7.31 million mt in the January-April period, from 6.9 million mt in the same year-ago period, PPAC data showed.
"The government is expected to speed the pace of distribution of subsidized LPG connections to the poor. That will keep the demand growth at double digits," Bansal added.
India is expected to invest $3.9 million-$4.7 billion in developing infrastructure facilities for LPG to raise household connections to 95.5% by 2020, oil ministry officials said Friday.
State-own Indian Oil Corp plans to spend 10% of its overall capex of $3.1 billion for 2017-18 on strengthening the infrastructure for LPG including setting up of terminals and bottling plants.
But despite the capacity build-out, IOC's chairman B. Ashok said he expects India to continue importing LPG at least for the next 12 to 13 years after which he anticipates a slowdown in India's LPG demand growth.
India consumed 21.5 million mt of LPG in 2016-17, a 9.8% growth from the previous year (2015-16), according to the oil ministry updates. Half of the last year's demand was met via imports, mainly from the Middle East. India's LPG imports rose 23% year on year to 11 million mt of LPG in 2016-17.
"Our main import destinations will continue to be the Middle East as shale gas production has made LPG price relatively a competitive option," Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said.
India aims to increase the number of households with LPG access to 268.7 million in 2018-19, up by around a third from 199 million in 2016-17, and to add 10,000 new LPG distributors by 2019, the minister said. The renewed push on LPG saw 4,600 new distributors open in 2016-17.
India's overall demand for oil products in April rose 2.3% year on year to 16.79 million mt, or 4.4 million b/d, PPAC data showed. January-April oil products demand fell 1% year on year to 65.7 million mt, or 4.3 million b/d.
"In line with our expectations, India's oil demand is on a recovery path as the impact of demonetization fades," said Sri Paravaikkarasu, Head of Oil, East of Suez, at consultancy FACTS Global Energy.
"Transport fuels should continue to propel oil demand growth in the coming months although LPG and other products will also contribute to a 5% to 6% average growth for the year," she added. "The double-digit growth in fuel oil in 2016 should reverse this year, while kerosene will track the negative trend."https://www.platts.com/latest-news/oil/singapore/analysis-indian-jet-fuel-lpg-demand-shrugs-off-27831257