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Relief for motorists as petrol and diesel prices fall to lowest levels for months

Charlie WestonIndependent.ie

Diesel prices at the pumps have dropped to their lowest level since Russia invaded Ukraine, in what is a rare piece of good news as consumers battle a severe cost-of-living crisis.

And petrol prices have dropped sharply to bring them back to a level not seen since September last year.

Diesel prices have fallen by 22c in the last month alone, a drop of 11pc, according to the latest AA Ireland fuel survey.

Petrol prices are down almost 10pc in the last month, with a drop in pump prices of 17c.

AA Ireland said diesel prices are at their lowest average price since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine.

Petrol is at its lowest average price since September 2021.

When diesel and petrol prices are combined it means that motoring fuel prices are down an average of more than 10pc across the State, offering some respite for motorists as their spend increases for the festive season.

The average price of a litre of petrol is now €1.60 per litre, a 17c drop since last month and the lowest average price for petrol since September 2021.

The average price for a litre of diesel is now €1.74.

Diesel prices had been steadily increasing but are now also down significantly, with a drop of 22c per litre, or 11.3pc, compared with November.

This is the lowest price recorded in Ireland for diesel since February of this year, the month that war began in Ukraine.

It comes as a relief to motorists as heating systems have been working overtime during the Arctic weather conditions.

Many households are likely to end up having to spend three to four times the average year-round cost for heating their homes at the moment.

AA Ireland’s head of communications Paddy Comyn said: “These latest price reductions come at a good time for motorists, hauliers and commercial operators alike.

“There is no firm indication on how long these prices will last, but for now, they give consumers some slight respite against ever-increasing prices.”

Home-heating oil prices have fallen back too.

It now costs €1,174 for 1,000 litres of kerosene, according to Oilprices.ie, a website that tracks prices. This is down from €1,687 in March.

But it is way up on this time last year when 1,000 litres cost €777. This means that home-heating oil prices are up 50pc on a year ago.

Kevin McPartlan, of Fuels for Ireland, which represents fuel suppliers, said a number of factors were combining to ease pump prices.

Fears of a global economic slowdown mean the price of a barrel of crude oil has fallen heavily.

It is down from a high of around $130 in March to below $80 now. And the dollar has weakened against the euro. A strong dollar makes fuels more expensive as oil is priced in the US currency.

Mr McPartlan said shipping costs have also fallen, while global oil network Opec+ has threatened to reduce supplies but has not done so.

But he said market commentators have warned that diesel prices at the pumps could be affected negatively by further sanctions being imposed by Western powers on Russia that are due to take effect in February.

AA calculates a diesel car will travel, on average, around 850km on a tank compared with 700km in petrol car. This is why even though diesel is more expensive, the consumer is likely to use less of it for the same average 17,000km per year.

Meanwhile, crude oil extended gains yesterday on supply disruptions and as Covid-19 restrictions eased in China, the world’s largest crude importer.

Brent crude futures were up 64c, or 0.82pc, to $78.63 per barrel, while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures gained 39c, or 0.53pc, to $73.56. WTI hit a low of $70.25 earlier in the week, close to the $70 theoretical buyback price at which US president Joe Biden aimed to replenish US crude stocks.

Investment banks Bank of America and Goldman Sachs have warned that a successful economic reopening in China could further boost oil prices above $90 per barrel, a move that would reverse price falls at the pumps.

China has scrapped some of its strict Covid-19 curbs in the past week but surging infection rates feed uncertainty.

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