At last – the truth about the SA fuel price

  • Here’s the bald facts on the fuel price
  • Why all the whining…? It’s barely changed
  • News media just looking for controversy
HOW THE FUEL PRICE FLUCTUATED: A look back over 2016 on how the petrol price rose and fell. Image: Automobile Association
HOW THE FUEL PRICE FLUCTUATED: A look back over 2016 to show how the petrol price rose/fell. Image: Automobile Association

JOHANNESBURG, Gauteng – Thank goodness for some sensible reporting from the South African Automobile Association about the latest ‘Oh! sheez! Not again! We’ll starve!’ reporting from websites, ‘news’papers and radio/TV news announcers.

News editors, use your brain and a calculator! Filling a 50-litre family car fuel-tank from empty will, since the 50c “increase” this week, now costs R25 more – about the same as ONE 500ml draught beer or one-third of an eat-in chickenburger from Spur!

Here’s the AA’s data: Unleaded 95-octane petrol cost only R0.45/litre more at the end of 2016 than at the start; 500ppm diesel rose by only R0.21 through the year.

So, why all the moaning?


“Unleaded 95 started 2016 at R12.40/litre, 500ppm diesel R10.81,” the AA said. “The most recent adjustment in December saw the year close with petrol at R12.85 and diesel at R11.02 – but mere figures don’t tell the story of what a roller-coaster year it was for South Africans.”

At its peak, the AA points out, petrol spiked to R13.34/litre in July, diesel to R11.70, with all fuel types affected by negative sentiment following the UK’s decision to quit the European Union.

The biggest monthly increase for petrol and diesel was in April with jumps of R0.88 and R0.95 despite a firmer rand.


The petrol price increased in five of the 12 monthly fuel price adjustments in 2016, diesel in six.

On the up-side, August saw the biggest single drop for petrol as tumbling oil prices and a more favourable Rand/US dollar exchange rate knocked R0.99 back off the price. Diesel dropped R0.74/litre in the same month but its biggest monthly drop was R0.76 last January.

The AA cautioned, however, against using 2016’s data to predict fuel price trends in 2017.

“While the supply/demand equation will certainly be more important in 2017 with Opec production cuts coming events affecting the rand’s strength will determine how hard any oil-price rises might bite.”


The rand, the AA said, was exposed to many unpredictable risks. “There is, for instance, a school of thought that a ratings downgrade was only staved off in December last year, rather than averted.

“Internationally, the spotlight will be on the Trump presidency and the British Brexit procedure. With SA named as one of the top global risks in 2017 by Time magazine, the rand remains vulnerable to risk-averse investors who move capital to perceived safe havens.”

The AA considered the major domestic risk to be the perceived abuse of institutions of state for personal gain by senior government ministers.

The statement said: “South Africa’s faltering economic position means the country is ill-positioned to weather further political scandals. These would have a direct effect on investors’ confidence and drive the rand weaker.

“A sharply lower currency in a strengthening oil-price environment could bring eye-watering fuel price increases.”

Well, The Corner says, at least that will give the general print news editors and radio newsreaders a real reason for screamers and breathless announcements. And we should be glad fuel is so cheap here – in the UK you’ll pay (Jan 2017) R19.25/litre.

Les Stephenson
Carman’s Corner

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