Price of petrol is set to reach an all-time high
CONSUMER chiefs have warned businesses not to use rising fuel costs as an excuse to hike prices as the cost of petrol is predicted to reach an all-time high of €1.35 a litre within weeks.
Dermott Jewell, chief executive of the Consumers' Association, said there was a reluctance among petrol station owners to move against their neighbours and that in some parts of the country there appeared to be no price competition at all.
Petrol prices have now passed the €1.30 mark in many filling stations nationwide and are predicted to rise to an average of €1.35 within the next two weeks -- higher than their peak during the 2008 oil-price spike.
Our survey of prices yesterday showed a wide range of prices, ranging from 119.9 cent a litre in one Co Galway filling station to 131.9 at a Texaco station in Co Limerick.
It means that motorists filling up an average 60-litre tank could see a price differential of more than €7 a time -- or around €300 a year.
The price-comparison website pumps.ie said that the average petrol price nationwide yesterday was 131.9 cent a litre. Diesel price was 121.9 cent.
However, this is expected to rise to 135 cent in the next fortnight, exceeding the 133.5 cent peak recorded in Ireland in July 2008, shortly before the global financial collapse. Diesel is tipped to rise to 125 cent.
Mr Jewell said there was no doubt that the country had lost its competitive edge during the boom years when many petrol stations closed.
"You could drive through Dublin or other parts of the country now and you won't see any spread at all. It's not that prices are being fixed, but no one is moving against their neighbour.
"We need to be very careful we don't give others the opportunity to talk up their prices and use fuel increases as the only reason," he warned.
The cost of a barrel of oil reached $82 in March, but is still nowhere near the $130 record seen two years ago.
However, this time around currency fluctuations -- in particular a strong dollar -- are being blamed for the steep rises seen in Ireland, as well as the government carbon tax, which added 4c a litre to petrol and 5c to diesel after the last Budget.
Overall petrol and diesel prices have risen by almost 20pc since this time last year.
AA Ireland's director of policy Conor Faughnan said: "What is most striking is how much fuel prices are headed towards 2008 prices.
"If families, drivers on fixed incomes and those on low pay were unable to cope with record prices then, they are even less likely to do so now."