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Japan’s July gasoline demand to recover on pandemic improvement, Olympics: PAJ chief

Japan’s gasoline demand is expected to recover in July on the back of gradual improvement in the coronavirus pandemic situation, coupled with an increase in a stream of people arriving for the Olympics among other factors, Petroleum Association of Japan President Tsutomu Sugimori said June 16.

“Although it depends on how the state of emergency measures will turn out hereafter, we expect a flow of people will certainly increase including from the Olympics,” Sugimori told an online press conference. “We expect the energy demand to gradually recover.”

The pandemic situation is gradually improving in Japan as the country is increasing COVID-19 vaccinations, Sugimori said, adding that Japan’s oil demand would recover should the case spread be contained and economy normalized.

Japan reported 1,418 COVID-19 new infections as of midnight local time (1500 GMT) June 16, down from 6,425 new cases a month ago, according to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.

Sugimori’s remarks came as Japan is about to decide whether to lift or change the status of the current state of emergency measures as well as deciding on its COVID-19 priority measures — both of which are due to expire June 20.

Roughly 43% of Japan’s population is currently under the state of emergency, while the priority measures account for 21% of the total population.

Below pre-pandemic levels

“Speaking of the demand after July, it is difficult to foresee on a year-on-year comparison basis, however, we expect the gasoline demand to recover from May-June, when it stood at around 90% of the level comparing with the pre-coronavirus pandemic time,” Sugimori said.

Japan’s gasoline demand is estimated to have fallen by 5% year on year in June, when it was down 9% from June 2019, while the June estimated gasoil demand rose 6% from a year ago but remained 3% lower than the 2019 level, Sugimori said.

The country’s gasoline demand is now estimated to have jumped 14% from a year ago in May but it was down 12% from the same month two years ago, with gasoil demand estimated to have risen 6% on the year but have fallen 5% from May 2019, he added.

While the Tokyo Olympics starts on July 23, Japan is taking a number of measures to ensure the safety of the people involved in the event, right from ensuring the vaccination of athletes and delegates, to limiting the number of arrivals and designating their accommodation and transport within the country.

Japanese oil industry sources have mixed views over the likely impact on gasoline demand from the games, with some expecting demand to increase, while others see a negative impact from the various traffic restrictions.
Source: Platts

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