The Covid-19 pandemic lowered the consumption of petroleum products in Belgium by 9% compared to 2019, according to figures from the Belgian Petroleum Federation.
Consumption of transport fuels fell by 14% in 2020, due to the reduction in car traffic during the pandemic. Petrol was the most affected (1.62 million tonnes, -16%), while diesel and gas oil consumption fell to a lesser extent (9.1 million tonnes, -7.7%).
Diesel consumption’s less significant decline is mainly due to its use in the transport of heavy goods, which was less affected by the coronavirus containment measures.
The drop in demand led to a drop in production in Belgian refineries, but they managed to run at a lower rate without having to stop. For the Petroleum Federation, “this underlines the great flexibility of Belgian refineries to cope with a very variable demand.”
The strong decrease in the consumption of transport fuels, in conjunction with stable demand from the petrochemical industry, resulted for the first time in the consumption of petroleum products in this sector exceeding that of fuels for road transport, according to the Belgian Petroleum Federation.
Belgian crude oil imports correspondingly fell by 26% last year.
Belgium’s main suppliers are Russia (32%), the Middle East with 24% (19% from Saudi Arabia), the North Sea (17%) and West Africa (Nigeria) with 10%.