Oil slump has uneven impact on global prices at the pump

Fri Mar 4, 2016 4:30am EST
 
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By Jarrett Renshaw and Reem Shamseddine

PHILADELPHIA/KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia(Reuters) - A dramatic drop in oil prices is translating into a mixed bag for motorists across the globe - from hefty savings at the pump in the United States to a rare fuel price hike in Venezuela.

Oil prices have dropped nearly 70 percent in the past 20 months, driven down by a glut in supply. All countries have access to the same oil prices on international markets, but retail gasoline prices vary wildly, largely because of the taxes and subsidies imposed on them.

That has meant the impact of diving oil prices has been uneven around the world.

In the United States, for example, drivers have enjoyed the fall as average gasoline prices tumbled to $1.64 a gallon ($0.43 a liter) last month from $3.37 a gallon ($0.89 a liter) two years ago. That has spurred a road renaissance of sorts as Americans hit the highways in greater numbers.

"It's great. It used to pain me to fill up my car, but now it's no big deal," said Patsy Gehring, a 59-year old who lives in Philadelphia. She says she notices the low pump prices every time she fills up her 2014 Honda Civic and is considering driving instead of flying on an upcoming trip to Florida.

"I'm probably going to end up driving. I'd prefer to fly, but gas prices are so cheap it just makes sense," she said.

The decline in prices at the pump has been more muted in countries like Indonesia, China and India, which have tried to reduce subsidies and absorb some of the gains from lower oil prices as taxes or levies, Barclays said in a research report.

Overall, retail fuel prices in Asia - which is home to three of the world's four largest energy importers - have fallen only about 35 percent despite the almost 70 percent decline in oil prices since July 2014, Barclays said.   Continued...

 
Unleaded petrol is priced at 1.44 lari ($0.58) per litre at a Lukoil fuel station in Tbilisi, Georgia, February 2, 2016.  REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili