Pump prices fall to pre-GST hike levels

SINGAPORE – Despite rising global oil prices, petrol and diesel pump prices have returned to levels seen prior to the latest Goods and Services Tax (GST) increase on January 1.

The benchmark Brent crude price reached its highest level since mid-November 2022 when it was at US$86.56 per barrel. Oil prices are expected to rise in 2023 due to increased demand from China, which has almost lifted its restrictions on Covid-19.

Ironically, it appears that China is also exporting more refined goods, which could lower Singapore’s wholesale prices for diesel and gasoline. The Chinese government has increased the export quota for its first batch of refined oil products for 2023 by 46%, according to market research firm S&P Global.

Caltex, Shell, and SPC lowered posted pump rates just before the Chinese New Year weekend, according to Fuel Kaki, a pump price tracker created by the Consumers Association of Singapore. The reductions ranged from three cents to five cents per liter.

These brands’ prices have been brought more in line with the pre-discount rates posted by Sinopec and Esso, the two other pump operators in this area.

Diesel currently costs $2.63 per liter at Sinopec and $2.64 elsewhere. The only brands that currently offer the 92-octane grade for gasoline are Caltex, Esso, and SPC. The grade currently costs $2.65 per liter. At SPC, the popular 95-octane grade costs $2.69, while it costs $2.70 elsewhere.

At Shell, the 98-octane fuel costs $3.22 a liter, while it costs $3.17 elsewhere; Additionally, Caltex charges $3.39, Shell charges $3.44, and Sinopec charges $3.30 for the so-called premium 98-octane grade.

After discounts, price differences are greater. Caltex (with the OCBC 365 card) and Esso (with the DBS Esso card) charge $2.17 per liter for 92-octane gasoline, while Esso (with the Citibank Cash Back card and other OCBC cards) charges $2.28 per liter. Prices for the 95-octane grade range from $2.12 per gallon at Sinopec (with OCBC cards) to $2.32 per gallon at Esso and Shell (with a variety of cards).

Discounted prices for 98-octane gasoline range from $2.49 at Sinopec (with OCBC cards) to $2.77 at Shell (with a variety of cards).

On January 1, pump operators saw their prices rise almost immediately following the one percentage point increase in the GST rate to 8%. The most recent revision has brought pump prices back to their lowest level since January 2022.

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