SA faces ‘biggest ever’ fuel hike in October

By Tom Head for The South African

You might have heard a few horror stories about the petrol price in South Africa soaring by R1 for next month. Well, we’re here to tell you it all seems completely true.

The AA forecast a rise of R1.12 per litre of petrol, and a whopping increase of R1.38 for diesel in October – a devastating blow that has been described as “the biggest single hike” in our country’s history. But what’s fuelling this crisis, and why are costs spiralling so dramatically? We’ve got answers.

Oil prices are nearing $100 a barrel
There’s a very bleak outlook for oil prices on a global scale. This is by no means a consolation, but it goes some way to explaining why it’s getting ridiculous in South Africa. It’s not just internal factors that have ramped up the petrol price. Some commentators believe oil prices will hit a 10-year high of $100 a barrel soon.

Tension between the US and Iran
It’s hard to accept, but the world tends to revolve around America at this point. While President Trump is taking a more hostile approach to foreign policy, Iran has become one of his targets. Now, the country is one of the biggest exporters of oil in the world, but there’s trouble on the horizon.

The US government are set to impose further sanctions on Iran while pulling out of an agreement regarding a nuclear deal achieved by the Obama Administration. Production is already dropping in the Middle-Eastern country, and further financial turmoil will have a negative effect on oil costs.

Countries not producing the goods
Energy Minister Jeff Radebe has highlighted that Libya produced 1.5 million barrels of oil a day before the regime collapsed in 2011. That number is now almost at a third of what it used to be.

Venezuela’s current crisis also got a mention. They are a member of the Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), but the oil industry has all but collapsed in the South American state. To put it in laymen’s terms, production is down and the cost has gone up.

A weak rand value to the dollar
It’s been a nightmare month for the rand, which has had to battle against the fierce knockout blow delivered by the recession. With the financial crisis coming as something of a surprise, the rand plummeted against the greenback and has struggled to find its feet ever since.

It soared above the R15 mark, and only recently came back down to R14.40. Most recently, Turkey’s currency tanked as a result of Trump’s intense import tariffs, aimed at stimulating industrial growth within the US.

In a global market, for every action, there is a reaction, and all emerging economies felt the knock-on effect of Turkey’s wobble.

Government subsidy backfires
Have you ever tried to help a situation but only gone and made things worse? Well, that’s effectively what happened to Jeff Radebe last month. The minister announced that the government would subsidise fuel costs for the month of September, meaning that an increase in the petrol price was smaller than forecast.

However, what were we just saying about actions and reactions? The slight relief felt this month will be compounded by the misery said to be coming our way next week.

For petrol prices to rise by a rand within a 30-day period is sharp, shocking rise. Had there been no government intervention, there’d be less of a knock-on effect. October’s rise could have been as “little” as 50 cents per litre, had South Africans been allowed to pay the full whack in September.

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