Petrol prices are a great topic for any social conversation. Any motorist will know how a visit to the nearest petrol station causes financial pain, with the bowser’s grim reminder that for every litre of fuel that goes into your tank, you’re paying through the nose. At the moment, it’s not uncommon to pay upwards of £1.30 for a litre of petrol or diesel in the UK, but how much better or worse are we than elsewhere in the world?
Petrol and diesel prices tend to rise or fall globally as a consequence of oil production from major exporters such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Venezuela, but there are also other factors at play. In different countries, levels of fuel duty and even the overall cost of living help to govern how much people have to pay at the pumps. Typically, in poorer countries, fuel tends to be cheaper, but there are exceptions.
The five most expensive countries for petrol and diesel
Norway is the most expensive country for both petrol and diesel. In August last year, one litre of diesel cost £1.50 while petrol cost £1.67. Unusually for a country with high petrol prices, Norway is known for being a major oil producer while its people enjoy higher average earnings than almost any other country on earth.
Surprisingly, petrol prices in Turkey were a close second. Petrol costs £1.66 per litre, while diesel costs £1.44. Italians pay £1.47 for diesel, while drivers in Israel spend £1.38 per litre. As for unleaded, the Netherlands is the third most expensive country on earth, with prices standing at £1.53 six months ago. Italian drivers pay £1.48 per litre of unleaded.
Cheaper petrol prices across the Atlantic
At present, one of the cheapest places to fill up a car is Venezuela, where government subsidies mean that Venezuelans only have to pay 2p per litre for fuel! Meanwhile, prices for petrol and diesel in the US are still well below the £1 mark. Typically, countries that produce a lot of oil tend to have lower prices, with Norway being a notable exception to this rule.
British drivers face mixed picture
In the UK, the average price is 131.2p per litre. As for diesel, the UK is the third most expensive country in the world as of January 2014, although the good news is that prices currently stand at about 135p per litre, having dropped from 141p last year. However, a large proportion of the money forked out by British drivers tends to go into the public purse instead of the pockets of the oil companies.
According to a recent report, despite cuts in fuel duty, it is estimated that about 58p of each litre of petrol is still tax. In other countries like Norway, high fuel duties are seen as necessary in order to promote environmentally-friendly policies, as well as to help pay for essential services such as health and education.
Comparing petrol prices around the world
Here is the current price per litre of petrol and diesel in the major car markets around the world (as of January 2014):
- UK: petrol £1.31, diesel £1.35
- USA: petrol £0.52, diesel £0.61
- China: petrol £0.81, diesel £0.76
- Hong Kong: petrol £1.32, diesel £0.98
- India: petrol £0.73, diesel £0.55
- Australia: petrol £0.81, diesel £0.86
- Canada: petrol £0.71, diesel £0.76
- France: petrol £1.21, diesel £1.08
- Germany: petrol £1.28, diesel £1.11
- Mexico: petrol £0.57, diesel £0.58
- Japan: petrol £0.87, diesel £0.76
- Russia: petrol £0.68, diesel £0.69
- Saudi Arabia: petrol £0.12, diesel £0.05 (yes, seriously!)
Fuel frugality pays off
As petrol prices steadily increase over time, more and more drivers are choosing cars with good fuel economy. Smaller cars are seeing growth in sales relative to larger cars, partly because they’re able to go a further on a full tank, which makes the price at the pumps less of a shock.
For drivers worrying about the increasing cost of motoring, it may be worth considering trading their current car in for something more fuel efficient. As the price of petrol and diesel goes up even further in doing years, it would at least reduce the need to make so many visits to the local petrol station.