95-octane petrol below $2 level as pump prices fall again

Pump rates have fallen again over the week, with the most popular 95-octane grade petrol now below the $2 level. This comes as the price of Brent crude, considered the global benchmark, slid below US$70 per barrel.

Esso was the latest to cut its pump prices yesterday morning.

The 95-octane grade petrol is now $1.95 a litre before discount across all four brands here: Shell, Singapore Petroleum Company (SPC), Caltex and Esso.

The cheapest 92-octane petrol is at $1.91 a litre across the board, while the premium 98-octane fuel ranges from $2.07 to $2.13 a litre. Shell's V-Power is still the costliest at $2.38 a litre.

Diesel prices also fell to $1.42 a litre across all the brands.

All the petrol companies, except Esso, posted the new prices on their websites on Tuesday. American giant Esso put up a sign titled "Change in Retail Pump Prices" at the entrance to its retail outlets to inform motorists.

The latest changes mean pump prices are now 19 cents lower than those in October and about 25 cents lower than last year's prices.

They are however still relatively high compared to the last time Brent crude was at its current level, back in 2010.

Oil and gas analysts expect oil prices to continue falling into the new year. Mr Daniel Ang, an investment analyst from trading services company Phillip Futures, said oil refining companies usually hedge their crude oil prices months and years in advance to stabilise revenues.

"This means that although prices have dropped, this does not mean that these companies have purchased crude oil at prices we see now."

Mr Ang however notes that if low oil prices continue to persist, pump prices would be expected to drop as well.

Mr Carey Wong, an investment analyst at OCBC Investment Research, said as crude oil prices continue to slide, there is a chance that they could fall to as low as US$40 a barrel.

"Currently, crude futures are already below US$70 a barrel, suggesting that oil is truly in a bear market and more downward revisions are likely," he said.

samboh@sph.com.sg