India's March petrol sales down 17% y/y, diesel down 26% y/y

A driver waits in a taxi for his turn to fill up his tank with diesel at a fuel station in Kolkata

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian state fuel retailers have sold about 17% less gasoline and about 26% less gasoil in March compared to a year ago as fuel demand in Asia's third biggest economy declined due to steps taken to curb spread of the coronavirus, industry sources said.

State companies - Indian Oil Corp <IOC.NS>, Hindustan Petroleum Corp <HPCL.NS> and Bharat Petroleum <BPCL.NS> - own about 90% of India's retail fuel outlets.

Local gasoline sales in March were about 1.94 million tonnes, while gasoil sales reduced to 4.98 million tonnes, sources said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed a 21-day lockdown that will end in mid-April in a desperate bid to stave off an epidemic among India's 1.3 billion people.

Due to restrictions on movement and travel advisories, aviation turbine sales have dropped by about 33% to 450,000 tonnes during the month, they said.

The country's consumption of liquefied petroleum gas or cooking gas rose 1.7% in March from a year earlier to about 2.3 million tonnes, they said.

Before initiating a nation-wide lockdown, India had taken steps including closure of schools, universities, shopping malls and other public gatherings and restricted air travel to control the spread of the virus.

(Reporting by Nidhi Verma, editing by Louise Heavens)