Oil consumption: recovery in August linked to domestic tourism


The downturn on an annual basis last month was -11.2%, compared to -13.9% in July. Motor vehicle fuels posted -4.6%. Unione Petrolifera foresees another, albeit more contained decline in September

Italian oil consumption fell by 11.2% on an annual basis in August to 4.5 million tonnes, 566,000 tonnes less than in the same month 2019. These figures were published by Unione Petrolifera, the association representing the main companies operating in petroleum products processing, logistics and distribution fields, based on provisional data in the latest survey carried out by the Ministry of Economic Development (Mise).

Consumption of motor vehicle fuels (petrol and diesel), for par working days, came to 2.4 million tonnes, of which 0.6 million petrol and 1.8 million diesel, a downturn of 4.6% (-117,000 tonnes). In particular, the total for petrol saw a drop of 4.9% (-32,000 tonnes) and sales on the network of 4.8%. The overall decrease for diesel fuel was 4.5% (-85,000 tonnes), with a more evident contraction of 5.3% for sales on the network and a slightly lower setback of 4% for wholesale diesel, used above all for goods freight.

The only petroleum products posting positive results as regards consumption were: bitumen (+17.4%), fuel oil (+15.8%) and lubricants (+1.3%). In the other segments, despite continued setbacks, there were some slight recoveries. Nevertheless, the data for jet fuel was significantly poor: -61.7%. Military aviation continued to grow strongly (32.7%) to offset the decline in civil aviation (-63.7%).

July posted 4.8 million tonnes of oil consumption, with a decrease of 13.9% (-783,000 tonnes) compared to the same month in 2019. The latest data, said Unione Petrolifera, consequently indicate “a progressive recovery in consumption linked in particular, in August, to domestic tourism, equally backed up by the ‘holiday bonus’ characterised by holidays close to home in Italy itself even by people who usually travel abroad. The persistence of the Covid-19 emergency nevertheless continued to limit the flow of international tourists. Domestic tourism therefore helped boost petrol, diesel and LPG consumption volumes which, despite remaining well below 2019 figures, continued to do better than in previous months,” concluded the association.

In the period January-August, oil consumption totalled 32.3 million tonnes, 18.8% less (almost -7.5 million tonnes) compared to the first eight months of 2019. Motor fuels, at 16.4 million tonnes, posted a fall in consumption of 21.3% (-4.431 million tonnes). The overall decline for petrol -24%; 23.7% for sales on the network. As for diesel, decreases were respectively 20.4% and 23.3%.

As regards September, Unione Petrolifera still expects a decline on an annual basis, likely to exceed 8%. The forecast is mainly attributed to persistent difficulties for air transport and cruise ships. Road transport, on the other hand, while seeing lower consumption than in September 2019, should be supported by the resumption in production activities and the re-opening of schools, as well as the continuation of the tourist season. These estimates suggest that the first three quarters of the year should close with a decrease of about 8 million tonnes (-18%) compared to the same period last year.