Fears petrol could hit €2-a-litre as price at pumps breaks €1.60
THE cost of petrol has smashed through the €1.60 a litre mark and is heading towards €1.70 in some stations -- with fears that the €2 barrier will soon be breached.
Hard-pressed motorists have been advised to shop around to bag better bargains as fears mount that costs will continue to rocket.
And hauliers operating on the continent are buying diesel there before returning to Ireland as it is significantly cheaper. The increase comes as provisional figures show the tax take from petrol last year totalled €1.51bn -- up from €1.47bn in 2006.
An Irish Independent survey of petrol prices in Dublin has found that charges can waver from as high as 169.9c a litre in one petrol station in north Dublin, to under 157c in other parts of the capital.
Petrol and diesel prices were hiked in December's Budget.
But consumers also face the prospect of further increases as tensions mount in the Middle East over Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last week stopped supplies of oil to the UK and France, and has threatened to extend the boycott to other EU countries. The price of crude oil yesterday reached its highest level since June, jumping to $121.15 (€91.4) a barrel.
The AA has voiced fears the price hikes will continue.
"We are literally getting phonecalls from motorists every day of the week complaining bitterly and genuinely very worried about the effects it's having on their lifestyle," said AA spokesman Conor Faulkner.
One of the highest prices for petrol was in the Esso garage on the Swords Road, Dublin, where unleaded was being sold yesterday for 169.9c a litre, and diesel for the same price.
Further along the road a Great Gas 24/7 service station was charging 157.9c for unleaded, and 153.9c for diesel.
Commuters travelling along the M1 northbound could buy petrol at the Applegreen Lusk Service area for 159.8c a litre, but interestingly, the Applegreen Cherry Orchard service station on the outskirts of Ballyfermot was charging 156.8c.
It's obvious that it pays to shop around.
Topaz Westway near Ballyfermot is charging 161.9c for unleaded and 158.9c for diesel, while the Maxol station on the Parnell Road is charging 157.9c for unleaded, and 153.9c for diesel. And a Top depot on the Swords Road, which does not have a forecourt or shop, is charging 153.8c a litre for diesel.
AA Ireland said there has been five separate tax increases on petrol and diesel since the Budget of October 2008, adding about 22c per litre to the retail price.
Meanwhile, the provisional figures for the tax-take on diesel last year was €1.24bn, up from €1.1bn in 2006.
For petrol at a retail price of €1.69 per litre, the VAT at 23pc would be just under 32c.
The carbon charge and excise amounts to just under 59c, meaning the total tax take amounts to 53.5pc of the retail price. For petrol charged at a retail price of €1.59 per litre, the VAT at 23pc would be just under 30c. Carbon tax and excise duty come in at under 59c per litre, meaning the total tax would be just under 89c per litre, or 55.7pc of the retail price.
A Department of Finance spokesman said fuel tax was a budgetary matter.
Jimmy Quinn of The Irish Road Hauliers Association said: "We're seeing no imagination, same old same old. I think people in our industry are totally dejected."
Why petrol can make more sense: see motors