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Europe's road traffic levels slide as impact of second-wave outbreaks mounts


Traffic 38% less on year levels in major capitals

London bucks trend as Paris, Madrid lead contraction

European oil demand seen down 1.5 million b/d in 2020

London — Road traffic levels in most of Europe's five biggest capital cites continued to slip last week compared with a year earlier, indicating moves to curb a fresh wave of coronavirus outbreaks have halted the region's fuel demand recovery.

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Average road congestion levels in Berlin, London, Paris, Rome, and Madrid were 38% below a year earlier in the week to August 2, down two percentage points from the previous week and back down to levels in mid-June, according to TomTom data.

The hardest-hit capitals are Paris and Madrid which are now back to levels of congestion seen in at the end of May and mid-June respectively, while London is still recovering slowly, according to the data.

High-frequency mobility data has shown that economic activity in many oil-consuming countries has taken hit in recent weeks as governments stall efforts to reopen their economies and re-impose quarantine measures to contain local outbreaks.

More than 30 European countries are seeing a resurgence in infections, according to the World Health Organization, and most have tightened measures to halt the spread of the virus.

Economic mobility in Europe's top five economies largely flatlined during July, according to the latest Google data, with average mobility at 21% below pre-crisis levels on July 27 on a rolling, seven-day basis.

"We expect the pace of recovery to slow after summer driving season, especially in North America and Europe," S&P Global Platts Analytics said in a recent note.

Road fuel sales have been the hardest hit in terms of volumes during the pandemic with gasoline and gasoil/diesel demand expected to fall by 2.7 million b/d (10%) and 1.7 million b/d (6%) in 2020, respectively.

Platts Analytics expects global oil demand to contract 8.2 million b/d in 2020 with Europe making up around 1.5 million b/d of the total.