The price of petrol has always been a problem. Nowadays, even as the cost of a barrel decreases, motorists in Ireland have to spend more at the garage than they have in several years. If rates continue to increase as they have over the past several months, 2019 could see Irish motorists paying nearly €1,000 more for petrol than they did in 2017.

What’s with this stark contrast in barrel prices and garage prices? There are a number of causes that could explain these unfair pricing symptoms. Political tension, the versatility in international currency and fluctuations in the world of petrol all seem to have traders on edge.

car refueling

The changes in fuel prices in Ireland

Petrol pricing nowadays falls in line with the pricing traders saw ten and eleven years ago. In 2008, traders moving through the Middle East and China could purchase a barrel for €74. While the price has definitely risen since then, the average motorist wouldn’t anticipate a rise of €13 to drive garage costs so high.

In fact, AA noted that the average cost of a litre of petrol in 2019 rests at its lowest price since 2017. It’s this stand-out fact that suggests the tax the Irish government placed on petrol as well as diesel may be driving garage prices skyward.

Current standings

It’s not cheap to keep a petrol-fuelled car on the road in Ireland today. On average, drivers can fill their tanks for €1.38 a litre. Diesel, comparatively, costs a bit less than its more environmentally-friendly cousin.

That said, the cost of a barrel of petrol has remained fairly consistent over the past ten years. Petrol prices have also only slightly risen in that ten year time, with fluctuations exasperating that difference at different periods. For example, in 2008, drivers in Ireland could fill their tanks for €1.36.

What’s the fuss over petrol’s supposed rise in price, then?

petrol station

The Reason for Petrol Fluctuation

Drivers and experts alike have all speculated as to a reason for the previous fluctuations in petrol cost. On a superficial level, it’s simple to suspect petrol companies and traders of wanting to take a more significant financial share of the industry for themselves. However, few sources believe or have conducted research that suggests this is the case.

Instead, return once again to 2008. This year saw the implementation of an emergency budget. That budget resulted in the issuing of five tax increases that have significantly altered the Irish economy. These taxes addressed:

  • VAT
  • Carbon emissions
  • Excise duty

Carbon emission taxes, it’s worth noting, were put into place to try and help curb Irish emissions levels. Unfortunately, they didn’t do the trick. Nowadays, not only does 85 per cent of Irish infrastructure operate on diesel, but the cost of petrol has risen by 21 cents.

car fuel prices

Country-wide consequences

What is the average driver to do in the face of this rise? The consequences of increased taxation are hard to ignore. As of 2019, 45 per cent of motorists claim that they’re prepared to reduce the amount they drive on a daily basis. While this doesn’t mean that they’ll be calling in to work sick on a more frequent basis, it does mean that there’ll be less money for trips with the kids.

Who is to blame for the tightening of Irish belts? It could be the taxman, and it could be the government. It could also be petrol companies who are unwilling to cooperate – or take a revenue cut – with nationwide legislation designed to keep the company in the black.

At the least, this noted rise in the price of petrol is not the disease but rather a symptom of a broader problem. Until parties can agree on what that problem is, however, motorists in Ireland can take concentrated steps towards reducing their petrol consumption.

fuel price

How to save up on fuel

Motorists looking to save at the garage can:

  • Research garages ahead of time – compare petrol prices before heading out to fill up the tank to find the most reasonable local garage.
  • Increase their petrol budget – cutting unnecessary trips or a coffee before lunch could help commuters pay for petrol over time.
  • Drive with greater care – acceleration consumes a significant amount of petrol. Drive more slowly and brake less often to save petrol.
  • Lighten their cars – the heavier a car is, the more petrol it needs to operate. When drivers remove unnecessary junk from their trunks, they’ll likely find that their tanks stay full for longer.
  • Check their tyres – car tyres need to be inflated to their maximum recommended weight to ensure a car’s best petrol mileage.
  • Find alternative means of transportation – while everyone can be a bit grumpy before their morning coffee, carpooling with co-workers can help everyone save money.

The introduction of a new Climate Action Plan, with its focus on biofuels and eco-driving, may change petrol pricing in the future. For now, though, Ireland must face the fact that its fuel prices do not reflect petrol’s international economic standing.