Petrol and diesel prices have hit record highs this month, leaving motorists fuming at price hikes well in excess of the budget tax increases. A litre of petrol now costs an average of 140.1 cent, up a full 9 cents on last month. Diesel also rose very sharply, up by 8.2 cent on the November figure to an average cost of 133.3 cent per litre. The sharp rises include the 4 cent and 2 cent excise duty increases contained in the budget of 7th December.
“AA Members have been contacting us in large numbers through the AA Blog and by email, complaining bitterly about what looks to them like a rip off.” Says Director of Policy Conor Faughnan. “Certainly you cannot leave a forecourt these days without feeling that you are being gouged, but to be fair it is not really the fault of the local garage.”
Three distinct factors have gone against us this month, according to the AA. The Euro has weakened against the US dollar and the barrel of oil has risen from about $84 to over $91. But we have also seen the wholesale price of refined product – the gasoline and auto-diesel – rise sharply in price on European markets. That last factor is probably caused by the very cold weather of recent weeks which has pushed up demand and caused come worries about supply.
“It is something of a perfect storm in terms of all those factors counting against us.” Says Faughnan. “And the last thing you need in a storm is the government knocking holes in the boat. The excise duty increases in the budget make a bad situation worse.”
With the exception of the tax increase, the factors pushing the price up are outside of Irish control and indeed are affecting fuel prices all across Europe. Nevertheless, motorists generally are expressing frustration and suspicion about oil companies and local garages.
“The AA has occasionally found garages making opportunistic price rises, and from time to time we have raised the issue with bodies like the Competition Authority.” Says Faughnan. “But while these price rises are very unpleasant and have a real affect on everyone’s cost of living, they are genuinely coming about because of external factors. The local garage is at the bottom of the food chain and is not making a huge margin.”
The AA is again advising motorists to shop around for best value. Prices vary significantly from one service station to the next, and saving 5 cent per litre equates to €2.50 on the fill of a normal tank. (at family car with a 1.3 or 1.4 litre engine will typically have a 50 litre fuel tank).
The AA is asking its Members and all motorists to share their concerns about prices and report any issues they come across via its website blog section, http://blog.aaireland.ie/
The AA’s Fuel Saving Tips.
Full details of the AA fuel price survey for December along with previous months for comparison, can be found at http://www.aaireland.ie/AA/Motoring-advice/Petrol-Prices.aspx.