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pump it up Motorists hit as prices at pumps reach record high – and look set to rise further

National survey shows highest average prices in Galway, Dublin, Cavan

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The upward pressure on fuel prices is 'very concerning for people who live in rural Ireland because they rely on their cars'. Stock image

The upward pressure on fuel prices is 'very concerning for people who live in rural Ireland because they rely on their cars'. Stock image

The upward pressure on fuel prices is 'very concerning for people who live in rural Ireland because they rely on their cars'. Stock image

THE price of fuelling our cars has hit a record high in Ireland and experts predict it will increase further.

An in-depth national survey has found the average petrol price has soared to an all-time high of 172c a litre and diesel has risen to 163c.

The investigation was carried out over four days and involved analysing fuel prices at 260 service stations across the country.

It found the highest average price for a litre of unleaded petrol was in Co ­Galway at 174c, followed by Dublin and Cavan at 173.9c.

It also found Galway, Kildare, Wicklow and Wexford to be the most expensive counties for a litre of diesel, at 164c.

While marked differences in price can be found in individual counties, there is little variation nationwide.

The lowest price for a litre of petrol and diesel was recorded at the same service station in Co Laois at 164c and 154 c respectively.

The highest price we recorded for a litre of petrol was in Co Meath at 177c. The most expensive price recorded for diesel was 166c in Kildare.

The soaring cost of fuel at this point in 2021 is in stark contrast to last year, when the national average price of a litre of unleaded was 125c and diesel was 117c.

It comes weeks after inflation shot to a 14-year high last month, primarily due to rising energy costs.

The main driver of energy costs was the price of electricity, which has soared by 21pc since this time last year, while gas prices are up 14pc. Home heating oil is up 46pc.

An increase in carbon tax included in last month’s Budget has further accelerated fuel and heating prices.

Michael Kilcoyne, the chairman of the Consumers’ Association of Ireland, said the soaring prices would see families and the elderly unable to fuel their cars and heat their homes this winter.

“Every cent that fuel rises, the Government are getting more and more into their coffers. They have no interest in placing a cap on fuel,” Mr Kilcoyne said.

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“They were able to cut VAT for the hospitality industry after months of saying it was impossible, but for people freezing cold and stuck at home there is nothing for them.

“It is going to be a cold, brutal and hard-pressed winter for people.

“Electricity has soared over 20pc in a year. People are livid, and the Government are going to feel that anger when the next election comes.

“These prices affect people on low fixed incomes in rural areas the most. Many of them are pensioners who live on €237 per week.

“This is the kind of pricing that turns people into prisoners in their homes.”

Anna Cullen, of AA Roadwatch, described the trend in fuel prices as “extremely ­worrying”.

“The last high like this was in 2012, but prices peaked at 170c and didn’t go above,” she said.

“I haven’t seen prices as high as this ever. We are looking at record level highs for fuel.”

While there are many reasons why Irish consumers are paying so much for fuel, the main one is tax.

“We pay 60pc tax at the fuel pump,” Ms Cullen said.

“That includes VAT, and then you also have to look at the carbon tax, which was increased to €7.50 per tonne, so that added 2c to petrol and 2.5c to diesel.

“In October figures, a €60 tank of diesel would rise by €1.48 and petrol by €1.28.

“If your petrol was at 173.9c per litre, it will cost you €104 to fill up your car.

“That’s very expensive when you have a family trying to budget and pay their mortgage, groceries and general expenses.

“And it is very concerning for people who live in rural Ireland because they rely on their cars.

“They don’t have the public transport infrastructure to support their daily lives.

“In October, the prices had already jumped by almost 30pc between 2020 and 2021.

“A group of oil exporters, OPEC, have forecast that global demand for crude oil will exceed 2019 levels in 2023, and it will continue to rise until 2035 before it plateaus.

“So prices are going to continue to rise.”

The news comes as hundreds of hauliers are due to descend on Dublin next week in a major protest over fuel prices.

Truckers will meet at six locations on Wednesday morning and will leave in convoy for Kildare Street, where protesters will gather on foot outside Leinster House.

The Irish Truckers and Haulage Association Against Fuel Prices is organising a peaceful protest over rising operating costs outside the Dáil.

The group has nearly 7,000 members, and truckers from all over Ireland are due to attend.

Owners of buses, tractors, vans and other commercial vehicles are being encouraged to join the protest.

Eugene Drennan, president of the Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA), said
costs are at the highest level ever in the history of transport.

Kevin McPartlan, chief executive of Fuels for Ireland, which represents fuel suppliers, said the record prices are due to a ­“confluence of events”.

“There has been a global energy supply challenge,” he said.

“And we have a global logistics problem getting things around the world. It is affecting everything, from children’s toys for Christmas to food ­distribution.

“That is having an impact because we are paying more to import fuel stock into the country.

“These are the broad socio-political factors that are having an impact. But that is combined with a time that came with a carbon tax increase, which was felt straight away.

“All of these things have combined to keep driving prices higher and higher.

“The obvious question that anybody would ask is: Are the prices going to come down any time soon? And the answer is nobody knows. If we did, we would all make an absolute fortune.

“The pump prices usually follow crude prices by a lag of two to three weeks, and there is no sign of them coming down in the immediate future.

“The Government has a really significant role to play. They are taking 60pc on average of the price of fuel.

“I think we are on the very brink of €1 from every litre of fuel bought for transport going to the Government.

“Say it is 180c in some of the garages today. Of that 80c that is left, you are bringing a global commodity from all over the world and refining it to an exceptionally high fuel quality standard.

“You are adding biofuel to reduce carbon emissions and you are transporting it in a way that complies with absolutely appropriate but onerous health and safety conditions, and you’re taking it to every corner of the country.

“You are still selling it for less than a bottle of mineral water in the store.

“The mark-ups on fuel are tiny, so if you were to go into the local garage and buy
€50 of fuel and buy a cappuccino for €2.50, the store owner would have made far more on the cappuccino than on the fuel.”

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