Popular 95-octane petrol crosses $3 mark, driven by hikes linked to Ukraine conflict

Shell raised its posted price of 95-octane fuel by eight cents to $3.06 per litre on March 7. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

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.

Follow The Straits Times' live coverage on the Ukraine crisis here.

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