IRELAND IS now the 17th most expensive country in the world for fuel, and ranks in twelfth position overall in Europe.
The country now only comes behind Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Israel, Norway, Finland, Denmark, the UK, Greece, Iceland and Sweden.
New figures from AA Ireland show that fuel prices at the start of the year remain close to highest levels ever recorded.
The national price of petrol is currently 170.3 cents per litre, while diesel stands at 160.5 cents per litre on average.
"Looking at the figures for January 2021, the average price of fuel stood at 129.9 cents for petrol and 120.8 cents for diesel," said Anna Cullen from AA Ireland.
"This means the price of petrol has increased by 31% in the past year, and there has been a 33% increase in the price of diesel."
According to AA, 60% of the price paid at the pumps is tax, which includes VAT and carbon tax.
Also, as demand fell in early 2020, members of OPEC Plus (a large group of oil exporting nations) agreed to cut output by about 10 million barrels a day due to the lack of demand.
This demand has now increased, but oil producers are unable to keep up with demand, causing prices to stay high.
"Each month since the pandemic hit, OPEC Plus members have met to set output quotas. In July 2021, the group set out plans to raise the overall output by 400,000 barrels a day (bpd) each month – but they have been missing the targets," says Cullen.
"Unless supply meets demand, fuel prices will remain high in Ireland and across the world. We don’t see fuel prices coming down any time soon which is really concerning for consumers. We also have to look at our taxation system – 60% at the pumps is a very high figure, so it is within the remit of the Government to ease the pressure on prices that consumers pay," Cullen adds.
The cost of living in Ireland is also leading to the increase in fuel prices, AA says.
According to the site Numbeo, Ireland is the 16th most expense place to live.
"The high cost of living is severely impacting lower-income families and people living in rural areas. They rely on their cars to get around, people in rural areas do not have access to adequate public transport. The options are simply not there," Cullen said.