Pace of surging prices at the fuel pumps 'beggars belief'

Pace of surging prices at the fuel pumps 'beggars belief'

Prices of over €2 per litre are being seen across the country. Photo: Sam Boal/

The rapid surge in the price of filling the car “beggars belief” and “raises the question of how it’s happening so quickly at the pumps”.

As prices for a litre of petrol hit the €2 mark, Dermot Jewell of the Consumers’ Association of Ireland has said it should not be a case of “history repeating itself where prices are fast to rise and slow to come back down”.

“This is one of many serious increases people are facing,” he said. “This is putting huge pressure on.” The annual cost of fuelling a car has already gone up as much as €200 since the beginning of 2022, with uncertainty over fuel supplies from Russia sending the cost of oil soaring.

In mid-February, the regular AA survey of fuel prices put petrol at an average of 177.3c a litre and diesel at 167.6c. At petrol pumps in Cork on Sunday, motorists were seeing prices well above 190c a litre. Prices of over €2 per litre are being seen across the country.

“Overnight, we’re seeing prices go up 15c or 18c,” Mr Jewell said. “That has an immediate impact on a household budget and a household who needs to travel.” 

The problem in Ireland is being mirrored in other countries, such as Britain which is also seeing record fuel prices at present as the world responds to events in Ukraine. On Monday, the price of oil soared to its highest level in 14 years as the US and Europe consider banning imports of Russian crude oil.

Briefly touching $139 per barrel, Brent crude - the most commonly used way of measuring the UK's oil price - was at its highest price since 2008.

While Europe and the US have so far resisted a ban on Russian oil, the heavy sanctions they have put on the country mean that many companies are baulking at buying anything from Russia.

According to data from Eurostat, around a quarter of the bloc's oil imports and around 46% of its gas came from Russia in the first part of last year. At home, the AA predicted last week that the surging prices could go “even higher” in the coming weeks.

Mr Jewell said the frequency and rapidity of the price rises in the last few weeks have taken people by surprise. “It’s not usual to see prices rise like this so fast,” he said. 

“Any form of significant mileage is going to cost you a lot more now than it did at the start of February. That’s hugely significant and affecting a significant part of the population.” 

Fuel suppliers body Fuels for Ireland said that the existing problems are exacerbated by excise duties, VAT and carbon taxes being levied on those high prices.

David Blevings, spokesperson for the IPRA said, "Unfortunately we are seeing huge upward pressure on wholesale and retail prices driven by strong demand and a real concern over future supplies. World oil stocks were at a seven-year low and now Russian oil is seen as toxic adding more pressure into the supply market.

"IPRA wrote to the finance minister last week and asked Government to reduce fuel duty by 10cpl for a period of six months to help alleviate these price increases. Consumers are already dealing with recent increases in food and energy costs, and increasing transport costs, unfortunately, adds to these woes. We understand the possibility of an excise cut is being discussed at the present time.

"One piece of good news this week is that on Tuesday member states of the International Energy Agency announced plans to release 60m barrels of oil reserves in an effort to alleviate the upward march in oil prices. While this may help slightly, we don’t believe it is enough and local action on reducing excise duty is a must”, said Mr Blevings

Last week, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the Government would consider measures to address the problem prior to the next Budget in October.

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