Pump prices reach new high despite softer oil prices and amid record profits by energy firms

After discounts, pump prices are still at their highest ever in Singapore. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - Fuel pump prices have reached another new high, with posted rates breaching previous records in early March - even though oil prices are around 15 per cent lower than in March.

According to Fuel Kaki, a fuel price tracker initiated by the Consumers Association of Singapore, a litre of diesel is between $3 (SPC, Sinopec) and $3.05 (Caltex, Shell) - up to 15 per cent higher than the previous peak back in March.

A litre of 92-octane petrol now ranges from $3.13 (SPC) to $3.20 (Caltex), or 7 per cent higher than in March.

A litre of 95-octane petrol is between $3.16 (SPC) and $3.25 (Shell, Caltex), while 98-octane petrol is between $3.64 (SPC, Sinopec) and $3.74 (Shell). This is around 0.5 per cent higher than their March highs.

The so-called premium 98-grade now ranges between $3.77 (Sinopec) and $3.96 a litre - also 0.5 per cent higher than their March highs.

The benchmark Brent crude last closed at around US$109 (S$150) a barrel on Thursday (May 19), down from nearly US$128 a barrel on March 8.

RBOB gasoline, however, had gone from nearly US$3.70 a gallon in March to US$4 early this week, before settling at US$3.80 on Thursday. RBOB gasoline is an approximate proxy for wholesale petrol.

After discounts, pump prices are still at their highest ever in Singapore.

For 92-octane petrol, Caltex has reclaimed its lead as the cheapest retailer, with a price of $2.59 a litre (with OCBC Voyage card). But its rate of $2.75 (with Unlimited Cashback card) is also the highest here after discount.

For 95-octane, Sinopec is still the cheapest at $2.48 (OCBC cards) although it has only three stations here. Among retailers with sizeable networks, Caltex offers the lowest rate of $2.63 (with OCBC Voyage card), while Shell has the highest rate of $2.93 (with UOB One card).

For 98-octane, which is necessary for only a minority of cars here, Sinopec again leads with $2.86 a litre. Among retailers with sizeable station networks, Esso's $3.03 is the lowest (with DBS Esso card), and Shell's $3.37 is the highest (with UOB One card).

With the latest increase, motorists are paying around 22 per cent more than in January for a litre of the popular 95-octane fuel after discounts.

Meanwhile, oil majors have been reporting a surge in profits. According to reports compiled by USAToday, Shell trebled its first-quarter earnings to US$9.1 billion, while BP posted a first-quarter profit of US$6.2 billion – its highest in over a decade.

Exxon (marketing the Esso brand of fuels) more than doubled its earnings in the first three months of the year to US$5.48 billion, and Chevron (marketing the Caltex brand of fuels) posted first-quarter earnings of US$6.26 billion – more than four times what it made at the same time last year. 

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