Pump prices in Singapore rise again after short-lived reduction before CNY

The price rise came as the benchmark Brent crude held steady at between US$85 and US$88 a barrel. - ST FILE

SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): Except for two Chinese companies, fuel pump operators have raised prices again, undoing the short-lived reduction seen just before the Chinese New Year weekend.

According to pump price tracker Fuel Kaki – an initiative by the Consumers Association of Singapore – Caltex, Esso and Shell have raised posted rates by about five cents a litre, with Caltex making the first move on Wednesday (Jan 25).

Sinopec and SPC, both Chinese-owned, have not revised rates as at Friday morning.

The price rise came as the benchmark Brent crude held steady at between US$85 and US$88 a barrel – the highest level since mid-November, but up to 50 per cent lower than the highs it reached in mid-2022.

The firming up of crude prices is seen to be fanned by the reopening of the Chinese economy, although some observers have pointed out that demand for refined products such as petrol and diesel may be depressed in China.

Ong Eng Tong, an oil industry veteran and consultant, said: “As China’s electric vehicle population is growing exponentially, the likelihood of surplus fuel in the country is imminent.”

According to an S&P Global report, the Chinese government has raised the export quota for its first batch of refined oil products for 2023 by 46 per cent.

The phenomenon of rising pump prices even as oil prices remain relatively stable is not particular to Singapore. According to Barron’s, pump prices in the United States have been rising in recent weeks. The financial news provider cited lower refining capacity, as well as higher refining margins, as the main reasons for this.

With the latest adjustments, the cheapest fuels here are still to be had at Sinopec, which is retailing the popular 95-octane petrol at $2.12 a litre after discounts (using OCBC Bank cards), while the highest price of $2.37 is quoted by Esso and Shell (using various cards).

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