Petrol sales in Ireland plummeted in April to less than a third of that consumed in the same month last year.The Covid-19 lockdown has resulted in a dramatic reduction in the number of vehicles on the roads with large sections of the population either unemployed or working from home.
Figures show that motor diesel also saw a significant fall in April with motorists purchasing just 45% of the amount they bought in April 2019.
The number of people remaining in their homes led to an increase in the purchase of home heating oils but overall fuel purchases were down. In April, the nation purchased just under 400 million litres of fuel from petrol, diesel, kerosene and gas oil.
Such fuels attract a 2c per litre levy which is used to fund Ireland's National Oil Reserve Agency (NORA) which stockpiles fuel to maintain 90 days of stock for use in the event of an oil supply disruption. The sale of most fuel types is subject to the levy, with the exception of aviation and marine fuel.
Figures supplied by oil companies for April show that Ireland purchased just under 24 million litres of petrol in April compared to more than 86 million litres in April 2019.
More than 133 million litres of motor diesel was purchased in April, less than half the 294 million litres purchased in April last year.
A spokesperson for the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment said oil companies operating in the State provide statistical information on a monthly basis to the Department and are provided to the EU Commission and the International Energy Agency (IEA).
"In addition, statistical information is provided by the Department to the National Oil Reserves Agency (NORA) in order to allow them to determine the amount of Petroleum Product Levy payable by the oil companies operating within the State."
The fall-off in fuel purchases began in March when motorists purchased 20 million fewer litres of petrol and almost 30 million fewer litres of motor diesel. The fall-off increased significantly in April and was expected to continue in May.The reduction in spending on fuel is also expected to impact excise revenues for the State. The AA says up to 70% of the price of fuel at filling station pumps goes to the State through excise, VAT and the NORA levy. The ESRI produced a report which said reduced household spending could result in a decline of nearly €7bn in indirect tax revenues this year.