Robert Powell takes a look at the countries with the lowest prices at the pump...
When it comes to petrol, you’ll struggle to find many other countries with higher prices than Britain. In fact, to be precise – if you did look, you’d find two.
Yes, according to stats from Car Insurer Staveley Head, the UK has the third priciest pump rates in the world, with an average price of 135p per litre. Norway’s capital, Oslo, tops the rankings with an average price of 164p per litre.
But which countries have the lowest prices? Here are the top ten cheapest places to buy petrol in the world...
#10 Algeria: Algiers – 20p per litre
Algeria is one of the Africa’s biggest oil producers turning out an average of 1.2 million barrels a day. This flood of oil has pushed down petrol prices in the country to 20p per litre, more than six times cheaper than the average pump price here in the UK.
The country's petrol supplies also played a vital role in the recent battle against Colonel Gaddafi in neighbouring Libya. With petrol production in the war-torn country running dry, rebel fighters relied on smuggled fuel from Algeria to power the final push against the corrupt dictator. Hurrah!
#9 Oman: Muscat – 20p per litre
Oman’s petrol prices also stand at just 20p per litre. Like Algeria, the Arabic state is drenched in oil, stepping up production in the last six months to 878,000 barrels every day.
#8 Egypt: Cairo – 19p per litre
Egypt is something of a transport hub when it comes to petrol. The Suez Canal – a vital supply line running across the east of the country – carries an estimated one million barrels of oil from the Persian Gulf every day.
That’s why at the peak of the country's revolution against President Hosni Mubarak, oil prices began to climb, amid fears that the unrest would interfere with the Suez supply route.
But while this oil price rise pushes up petrol costs here in the UK, the rate petrol is sold at the pump over in Egypt remains relatively low, at just 19p per litre. But with the country's government still anything but stable, it’s anyone guess as to how long costs will stay this cheap.
#7 Qatar: Doha – 15p per litre
Prior to the discovery of oil in Qatar, the small Arab emirates’ economy was mainly built on fishing and pearl hunting. Now the country’s national petroleum supplier accounts for 70% of the government’s revenue. Recent high oil prices have made per capita income in Qatar amongst the highest across the globe while petrol prices are the seventh lowest at just 15p per litre.
#6 Kuwait: Kuwait City – 14p per litre
Kuwait is tenth largest oil producer in the world and its supply is thought to account for 10% of global reserves. But nevertheless, the government subsidises both public transport and petrol bringing prices down to just 14p per litre.
#5 Bahrain: Manama – 13p per litre
Compared its Middle-Eastern neighbours, Bahrain has fairly limited oil supplies. However 60% of the country’s economy is still rooted in petroleum refining, which has grown strongly over the last ten years. The country is at fifth in the rankings with an average petrol price of just 13p per litre.
#4 Turkmenistan: Ashgabat – 12p per litre
The UK government taxes petrol to the high-heaven, while in Turkmenistan they give it away – literally. Every driver in the Turkic state is entitled to 120 litres of petrol for free every month. If they exceed this, the pump price is only 12p per litre.
#3 Libya: Tripoli – 9p per litre
As I mentioned earlier, petrol supplies in Libya have dried up recently owing to the closure of several oil plants in the midst of unrest in the country. But when pumping at its prime level, the country is the ninth largest oil producer with an average petrol price of just 9p per litre.
#2 Saudi Arabia: Riyadh – 8p per litre
Saudi Arabia is the largest exporter of petroleum in the world. Domestically fuel prices sit at around 8p per litre. Yet only half of the population can take advantage of these low rates; as women in Saudi Arabia are banned from driving due to a religious fatwa (Islamic law) imposed by conservative Muslim clerics.
#1 Venezuela: Caracas – 2/3p per litre
Yes, to get hold of the cheapest petrol in the world, you’ll have to travel all the way to the South American country of Venezuela. Petrol is just 2-3p per litre in the socialist republic – that’s around 54 times cheaper than prices here in the UK. So if you have a 70 litre fuel tank in your car, you could fill it up in Venezuela for around £1.50. While In Britain it would cost you a whopping £95.
Prices are kept low thanks to subsidies from the country’s left-wing government.
Source: Staveley Head
A matter of context
Now, before you all start weeping at the prospect of 2p per litre petrol, it’s worth remembering that these insanely low rates almost always come at some cost.
Take Venezuela. Yes, the country may have outrageously low petrol prices. But when it comes to healthcare, standards are pitiful. Indeed, hospitals are so under-funded even the country’s President Hugo Chavez chose to jet off to Cuba recently to get his cancer treated. As The Guardian’s South America correspondent Rory Carroll points out, some analysts place the overall cost to economy of maintaining such low petrol prices (through subsidies and loss of taxation) at around £13bn. That’s more than double the education and health budgets.
But this doesn’t mean that the cost of petrol isn’t unfairly high in this country, especially when you consider that the UK is actually amongst the top 20 oil producing countries in the world.
Head over to Petrol prices fall at supermarkets to find out more.
Keeping petrol costs down
And finally, to find out how to save money when filling up your tank (without moving to Venezuela or Saudi Arabia!) read How to beat record petrol prices.
Where in the world - and the UK - have you found the cheapest petrol prices? Are you surprised the USA isn't featured in this list?
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