The national and state-level lockdowns imposed to curb the spread of Covid-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the sales volume by the city gas distribution (CGD) companies due to decline in demand. However, the natural gas demand in the country has been picking up with the easing of lockdown restrictions. According to GAIL (India) Limited, its gas demand is expected to return to pre-Covid-19 levels soon with the expansion of the city gas network offsetting the decline in consumption. Further, the compressed natural gas sales in the country are also rising to meet the pre-lockdown levels with demand from industries and commercial establishments as the state governments have progressively opened up the markets. There has been an increase in demand from fertilizer plants, refineries and power plants, which has helped in recovery of natural gas demand. In July 2020, India consumed 5,333 million standard cubic meters (mmscm) of natural gas as compared to 5,433 mmscm in the corresponding period last year, as per the official data. This is a sharp recovery of 7.65 per cent from the total consumption of 4,925 mmscm in the previous month i.e. June 2020.

Now, with the government looking at launching a bid round to give out licences for retailing gas in about 500 cities, the CGD sector is expected to revive soon from the impact of the pandemic. The brief by ORF gives an account of the recovery made by the sector with sales volume of major players such as GAIL (India) Limited and Indraprastha Gas Limited rising to the pre-Covid levels.