SINGAPORE - The most popular grade of petrol has breached the $3 mark after a series of rapid rises accelerated by the Ukraine crisis.
Shell started the ball rolling by raising its posted price of 95-octane fuel by eight cents to $3.06 per litre on Monday morning (March 7), following at least three rounds of increases totalling 28 cents since three weeks ago.
The others are not far behind, with Esso at $3.04, Caltex at $2.98, Sinopec at $2.95 and SPC at $2.87, according to Fuel Kaki, a pump price tracker set up by the Consumers Association of Singapore.
With Brent crude inching towards US$130 a barrel - the highest since before the last global financial meltdown in 2008 - observers reckon that 95-octane across other brands will hit $3 before the end of the month, if not sooner.
Maybank analyst Liaw Thong Jung said in a report on Monday: “The energy market currently faces a ‘tri-lemma’ – strong global oil demand post-pandemic, supply disruption due to structural under-investment, and rising geopolitical tension.
“A potential sanction on Russia will see the oil crisis deteriorate, with heightened volatility over an extended period.”
Currently, 92-octane fuel, which can be used by the majority of cars here, is the only petrol with posted prices of below $3 – but just barely. The lowest is $2.84 at SPC, followed by Caltex at $2.92 and Esso at $3.
Shell and Sinopec do not offer 92-octane petrol.
Meanwhile, the prices of the so-called premium grade are well above $3.50, with Shell's $3.77 inching towards $4.
After discounts, Sinopec still offers the lowest prices, although it has only three stations. Its 95 grade is $2.31, followed by $2.41 at Caltex (with OCBC Voyage card), $2.44 at SPC (with several cards), and $2.49 at Esso (with DBS Esso card).
The highest prices are at Shell, with the 95 grade ranging from $2.63 to $2.75.
Caltex offers the cheapest 92-octane petrol, at $2.37 (with OCBC Voyage card), followed by SPC at $2.41 (with several cards) and Esso at $2.46 (with DBS Esso card).
Commercial fleet owners and taxi drivers are not spared, with diesel pump prices having risen by more than 30 cents a litre in the last three weeks. The highest posted price is at Shell at $2.67, and the lowest at SPC at $2.43.
After discounts, the priciest diesel is still at Shell at $2.40 if payment is made with the UOB One card, while SPC offers the lowest at $1.94.
Cabbies filling up at kiosks owned by taxi operators have also seen pump prices climbing exponentially in recent months. At ComfortDelGro, the largest taxi company here, diesel is $1.43, up from $1.12 in January; while 95-octane petrol is $2.04, up from $1.74 in January.
Oil prices have been defying gravity despite attempts to stabilise the market.
On March 1, member states of the International Energy Agency (IEA) - a Paris-based autonomous intergovernmental organisation - agreed to release 60 million barrels of oil from their emergency reserves "to send a unified and strong message to global oil markets that there will be no shortfall in supplies as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine".
This translates to two million extra barrels a day for 30 days, or an increase of around 2 per cent.
The IEA said this is the fourth coordinated drawdown since the organisation was formed in 1974. Member states hold emergency stockpiles of 1.5 billion barrels.