Among the reasons explaining it are the entry into maintenance of the refineries in the United States, lower oil production by OPEC and speculation in the oil futures market.
By Constanza Morales H.
Not only in Chile motorists suffer whenever they go to service stations to fill the tanks of their vehicles. Consumers in other parts of the world are also suffering from the growth fuels have experienced recently. By the fourth week in a row, fuels rose in Spain, where the liter of gasoline reached an average price of 1.484 euros (US $ 1.95), i.e., 4.8% more than in the same week in 2012 and 6% more than at the beginning of the year. For his part, diesel first overtook the threshold of 1.4 euros in five months to move to 1.41 euros, which corresponds to an increase of 3% compared to the same period of year past and of 3.5% compared to the beginning of 2013. The situation in the rest of European countries is less auspicious, as the average litre of the fuel in the European Union amounted to 1,619 euros and euro zone came to 1,662 EUR. On the other side of the Atlantic, the price of the gallon (3,78 litres) of gasoline unleaded climbed on average US $0.47 in the last month, becoming the biggest jump in nearly four years, it was reported on Tuesday the American Automobile Association (AAA, its acronym in English). The Federation informed that the petrol prices have risen for 34 consecutive days. A month ago, a gallon of regular unleaded cost $3.30, but on Wednesday stood at $3.77. The US $0.47 extras represent an increase of 14%, the most sharp rise since June 2009. “The run-up this year is not only larger and faster, but it is also starting earlier,” said AAA. While the national average increased only $0.07 for the same period of 33 days in 2011, the increase last year was US $0.18. Tom Kloza, analyst head of crude oil (OPIS, its acronym in English) price information service, detailed financial daily which usually occurs a rise in the value of the fuel in the weeks prior to that comes the spring. “What is unusual is that this time began in mid-January, i.e., 30 days earlier than normal,” said. Reasons for the increase “One of the reasons for the anticipated increase in the price is the trend that U.S. refineries have to season and maintenance make the shift towards the production of summer blend gasoline earlier in the year”, argued the Automobile Association. Summer-blended fuels are more expensive to produce than the combination of winter. Another factor that explains the higher price is lower production of crude oil by members of the Organization of the petroleum exporting countries (OPEC). “Saudi arabia and OPEC countries reduced their production by 1 million barrels a day last month. That’s a lot of oil,”he said to the daily US News Chris Faulkner, Executive President of the Breitling Oil and Gas Company. “They saw that United States and other countries are producing more oil now, so it tightened its production,” which causes fears about possible supply problems, he added. The tensions in Iran and Iraq and the positive economic signals in the United States and China are also pushing prices upward. But for Tom Kloza theme bypasses or by supply or demand. The reason behind the sharp rise in prices is speculation by traders. “Money has entered the market of the future and why they seek higher prices,” said the expert. Generally, gasoline is sold between US $5 and US $15 per barrel above the value of any crude oil. Now it is between US $20 and US $50 above. “Essentially, gasoline is is trading $130 or $135 per barrel”, he said. OPIS analyst estimated that the gallon of gasoline in the United States could reach its maximum level between March and April, placing between $3.80 and $4.10. Leader in Latin America So far, what happens in the Chilean market is different from what happens in the rest of Latin America. This explains why in Chile prices depend on changes in the international market, while in most of the large Latin American economies is the Government that sets the value of fuels, as in the case of Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Colombia. In Chile, for example, the value of the 95 octane benzine is at 850,9 pesos (US $ 1.80), while in Mexico it is in 11,03 Mexican pesos (US $ 0.86).