Saudi drone attacks will increase local fuel prices

17 September 2019 - 12:28 By AASA and Motoring Reporter
South Africa is extremely vulnerable to shocks in the oil market, such as the recent drone attack, and should work towards mitigating the effects on local prices, says the AA.
South Africa is extremely vulnerable to shocks in the oil market, such as the recent drone attack, and should work towards mitigating the effects on local prices, says the AA.
Image: Theo Jeptha

Drone strikes on Saudi Arabia's Abqaiq oil refinery have wrought chaos on world oil markets and made the forecasting of the oil price more difficult. This is according to the Automobile Association (AA), which was commenting on unaudited mid-month fuel price data released by the Central Energy Fund.

“The refinery strike was a game-changer for the way oil price stability is viewed. At a single stroke, 5%-7% of the world's oil output has been wiped from the board, leading oil prices to surge disproportionately,” says the AA.

The effect of the attacks has begun to feed into the South African fuel price picture.

Diesel, already set for an increase by last Friday, has swung further into the red, with an increase of 13c a litre now forecast. Illuminating paraffin has followed suit, with an 8c rise on the cards. All grades of petrol were showing a decrease on Friday, but this has narrowed, from 11 to five cents in the case of 95 octane, and from 25 to 20 cents for 93 octane.

The AA says because of the volatility of the factors which influence the local fuel price, movements are likely and the outlook will change before month end.

“The US president has authorised the release of oil from that country's strategic petroleum reserve. This should calm some oil price nerves, but the potential for copycat attacks on other oil installations now that their vulnerability is clear remains a concern,” says the AA.

The association notes that South Africa’s heavy reliance on petroleum imports is worrying. In an era where many millions of barrels of production capacity could be removed in an instant, the country cannot ignore the risk of fuel shortages or crippling price increases which are disconnected from normal supply-and-demand cycles.

“We believe government should review short-term risk mitigations, including increased biofuel production, electric vehicles and better public transport. Given the recent developments, these mitigations should now become urgent priorities for the government,” the AA concludes.


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