Market Snapshot: COVID-19 response impacted diesel fuel consumption less severely than gasoline

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Release date: 2021-01-06

Canadian consumption of both gasoline and diesel fuel has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic response. However, gasoline consumption has been more severely impacted than diesel fuel consumption.

Gasoline consumption fell by about 41%, or about 1.4 billion liters per  month, from February to April. Consumption partially rebounded through the late spring and summer. Lower passenger transportation, due to travel limitations and Canadians working from home, was the primary reason for the decrease in gasoline demand.

Figure 1. Monthly Consumption of Gasoline and Diesel (2019 – September 2020)

Source and Description

Source: Statistics Canada

Description: This line graph shows Canadian consumption of diesel fuel and gasoline. There are four lines. Two show consumption of diesel and gasoline through 2019, while two show consumption of the fuels from January to August of 2020, allowing for direct comparison between years. Both gasoline and diesel consumption decreased significantly in April of 2020, then partially recovered in May. Through the summer of 2020, gasoline consumption recovered to about 86% of 2019 levels, while diesel consumption recovered to about 90% of 2019 levels.

Demand for diesel fuel was more stable through the early months of the pandemic, but still saw a substantial decrease relative to pre-pandemic levels. Diesel fuel consumption fell by about 26%, or about 656 million liters per month, from March to April. Diesel consumption increased through the summer months, reaching 90% of 2019 levels. Freight shipping, which primarily uses diesel fuel, decreased in response to lower economic activity, but was less affected by the pandemic response than passenger transportation.

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