Lockdown easing traffic upsurge drives gasoline higher, Energy News, ET EnergyWorld

Lockdown easing traffic upsurge drives gasoline higherLONDON: An easing of coronavirus lockdown measures has driven a strong recovery in gasoline demand as traffic congestion in some of the world’s capitals returns to the levels of a year ago, data prepared for Reuters shows.

Gasoline prices dropped by almost 75 per cent in the first quarter after countries across the globe introduced travel restrictions to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

On Wednesday, the price of gasoline barges in Europe reached a 10-week high of $294 a tonne.

At the same time, traffic in capitals Berlin and Tokyo has returned to the levels of a year ago, data provided to Reuters by location technology company TomTom showed.

The data, covering January 1 to May 20, showed traffic in Moscow had significantly risen in May, even though lockdown measures are in force there until May 31.

TomTom’s data on the peak daily congestion level in percentage terms showed Moscow at almost 50 per cent on Wednesday, up from 2 per cent in early May, but short of the 90 per cent last May.

Traffic in Paris also rebounded as non-essential shops opened their doors in mid-May after two months of closure.

In London and New York, the rise of traffic was visible but not steep, the data showed.

Gasoline demand is typically highest in the United States during the summer driving season, which kicks off with this weekend’s Memorial Day holiday.

So far, however, New York City, the country’s most populous metropolis, remains subject to strict movement limits, although construction and manufacturing facilities in five out of 10 New York state regions have approval to restart operations.

The rise in congestion could be just the start given that many are still working from home and the traffic increase has been spurred by people avoiding public transport for fear of infection.

“This behaviour change increases congestion on the road,” UBS analyst Giovanni Staunovo said.

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