Drivers hit by fuel price hikes but pay less than many in EU
Ireland is not Europe's most expensive country for petrol or diesel - despite some claims to the contrary.
But we can be forgiven for thinking we are after fuel prices appeared to take a sharp upward curve in the past week.
Motorists are now paying an average of 150c a litre for petrol - up from 138.1c in January.
An Irish Independent analysis of fuel price data shows we are far from being the cheapest in Europe - but still some way off being the most expensive.
There is no doubt the higher prices are reflecting the reality that oil has risen to $80 a barrel and more.
According to latest figures from GlobalPetrolPrices.com, Irish motorists are paying an average of 150c/litre for petrol.
The AA here shows petrol prices averaging 145.9c a litre (based on late September data). Some examples on Pumps.ie are showing closer to the AA average.
Regardless, prices have risen significantly since January last when petrol cost 138.1c/litre and we paid an average of 127.3c for diesel.
The corresponding prices for January 2017 show an even more dramatic upward curve with petrol on 126.5c/litre and diesel costing 112.8c/litre (AA figures).
Despite the increases, what we pay for fuel is still in the mid-range of European prices.
Using the global prices index as a comparative tool, Austria's average petrol price is shown to be 133c/litre which, along with Spain (135c), is a lot less expensive than here. The UK (148c) and Belgium (149c) are similar to ours.
We're slightly less expensive than Germany (152c) as well as being lower than Sweden (156c), Portugal (161c), Italy (164c), Denmark (165c), the Netherlands (169c) and Norway (180c/litre).
Diesel prices here are averaging around 140c/litre according to both the AA and the GlobalPrices data. That makes us more expensive than Spain (128c), Hungary, Germany and Austria (all on 131c/litre).
We are much the same as the Netherlands (140c/litre) with Portugal (143c) slightly ahead while Finland, Greece (147c each), Italy, UK (153c), Denmark, France (154c), Belgium (156c), Sweden (163c), Iceland (169c) and Norway (171c) are all costlier.
GlobalPetrolPrices.com says it publishes the most reliable data on retail fuel prices around the world and tracks more than 150 countries on a weekly basis.
Retailers here were being blamed for pushing petrol up to, and above, 150c/litre in anticipation of a Budget rise. But that wasn't necessarily the case at all, according to the AA's Conor Faughnan.
"Lots of people are convinced garages put up prices in advance of Budget increases but it is more that people are becoming aware of higher prices," he said.
Price increases did not mean major profits for retailers, he said. The 4c/5c per litre they get is dwarfed by the Exchequer's take. It comes to 88c on every litre of petrol (costed at 145.9c/litre) - which helps explain why the pre-tax price of a 145.9c/litre of petrol is 57.8c and 63.8c for diesel.