European road traffic levels continue to slide amid tougher lockdowns

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Highlights

Congestion falls in Berlin, , London, Rome

Total is seeing fuel sales fall: CEO

Madrid bucks trend despite emergency lockdown

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London —
European driving activity fell for the third week running in the week ended Oct. 25 as growing measures by regional governments to contain a spike in coronavirus infections continue to curb activity.

Average road congestion in Europe’s top five capital cities fell to 19% below a year earlier in the week, according to TomTom data, a 3 percentage point change from the previous week and the third dip in congestion since the first week of October.

Road congestion levels fell in London, Berlin, Paris and Rome but rose in Madrid, where a 15-day emergency lockdown expired on Oct. 23, the data shows.

Spain, which has one of the highest infection rates in Western Europe, on the weekend declared a national state of emergency and imposed a night-time curfew in an effort to help new infections.

Seen as a proxy for and , road congestion had recovered to 6% below a year-earlier in early October when most European countries began to reinstate localized restrictions on movement to control surging rates of coronavirus infections.

Speaking earlier on Oct. 26, the head of French Total Patrick Pouyanne said he has already seen a drop in demand for road at the company’s pumps as a result of the new lockdowns.

“We have seen it in Europe in the business. We had good volumes during the last quarter, almost like before the pandemic,” Pouyanne told an industry event. “But globally speaking, still the demand is weak. I am afraid that with the second wave we are experiencing in many continents today again, it could be longer [for demand] to recover like everybody hoped.”

Road transport consumes about 40% of total globally and the travel restrictions and lockdowns in response to the pandemic in Europe are expected to curb oil demand by around 1.5 million b/d in 2020, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics. Road fuels in Western Europe are dominated by diesel demand.

Author

Robert Perkins

Editor

Jonathan Dart

Oil

Source: Platts

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