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India's May fuel use inches up on month on strong industrial activity

India's fuel consumption edged higher in May from the previous month, data from the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) of the oil ministry showed on Friday, as strong industrial activity and general elections boosted fuel demand in Asia's third-largest economy.

By the numbers. Total consumption totaled 20.49 MMt (4.84 MMbpd) in May, slightly down from 20.69 MMt last year, data showed. Demand rose 3.2% on a monthly basis from the 19.86 MMt consumed in April.

Sales of diesel, mainly used by trucks and commercially run passenger vehicles, rose by 1.8% year-on-year to 8.37 MMt in May. Sales of gasoline in May rose 2.4% from the previous year to 3.43 MMt. Demand for bitumen, used for making roads, fell by 5.6% annually.

Cooking gas, or LPG sales rose by 2% to 2.39 MMt, while naphtha sales fell by 8% to 1.07 MMt, compared with last May, the data showed. Fuel oil use decreased by more than 11% year-on-year in May.

India's economy grew at a faster-than-expected pace of 7.8% year-on-year in the January-March quarter, helped by strong growth in the manufacturing sector, and economists expect the momentum to remain strong this year.

India's monsoon rains have advanced into the western state of Maharashtra after covering almost all of the southern region, two senior weather officials told Reuters. Summer rains, critical to spur economic growth begin in the south around June 1 before spreading nationwide by mid-July.

Sweltering heat and policy measures are fueling a surge in the use of gas-fired power in India, with imports of LNG forecast to rise sharply over the next two years, industry officials and experts say.

Asia's imports of crude oil rose to the highest in 12 months in May, with the strength being driven by India as the region's second-biggest buyer is on track to see record arrivals.

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