Motorists wake up to record high at pumps
Crises in Iran and Nigeria lead to further increases
Retail petrol prices hit a record high this morning as oil companies passed on sharp spikes in crude oil prices.
Today, only PTT Plc is holding back its price.
At most service stations, all types of fuel will cost 40 satang per litre more today. Octane-95 petrol will retail for Bt28.54 a litre, octane-91 for Bt27.54, gasohol for Bt26.84 and diesel for Bt26.69.
PTT president Prasert Bunsumpun last night said the company would wait another day before deciding what to do.
"I believe that throughout this month, global oil prices will remain high due to troubles in Nigeria and Iran. Prices will fall only when those troubles are resolved," he said.
Global oil prices reached all-time highs yesterday as Iran's protracted row with the West over its nuclear plans fanned fears about potential supply disruptions. At 4.45pm Bangkok time, the Brent contract for June delivery on London's ICE Futures exchange was up 39 cents at US$71.85 (Bt2,725) a barrel, after touching a record high of $72.20. The crude contract for May delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange was trading up 30 cents at $70.73 a barrel, off the $70.88 high reached earlier in the session.
Metta Banterngsook, director-general of the Energy Policy and Planning Office, said global oil prices could increase further if the situation in Iran remained problematic.
"Iran is the world's second largest oil producer, second only to Saudi Arabia, with daily production capacity of eight million barrels. Importantly, it controls the vessels coming in and out of the Persian Gulf," Metta said. "That raises concerns that supplies to the world from the Middle East, particularly from Kuwait, Dubai and Abu Dhabi could be blocked."
High oil prices have sparked complaints from consumers, who have asked the government for help.
Metta quickly brushed aside the possibility of any intervention.
"To solve the problems induced by high oil prices no longer concerns intervention, as that could incur a huge burden in the future. We opt to ease problems by providing alternative fuels and encouraging consumers to use public transport," he said.
Jitters have crept into the crude-oil markets on concerns Iran could withhold its oil from the market because of its anger with the West over its uranium enrichment programme.
Yesterday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned Iran will "cut off the hand of any aggressor", and insisted its military had to be equipped with the most modern technology.
Aside from concerns about supply, KGI Securities (Thailand) also attributed the recent increases to greater-than-expected economic growth, driven by East Asia, particularly Japan and China.
"With the current tensions, fuel prices will likely remain high (at $76 per barrel) through the year. If that's the case, this would bring full-year average price up to $74.5, up 6.4 per cent from our previous estimate of $70, or even higher," the securities company said in the latest research.
Dominic Bryant, oil economist at BNP Paribas in London, told Dow Jones Newswires: "In terms of future price developments, the fact the price is at $70 a barrel in the second quarter - traditionally the weakest quarter for oil demand - suggests a significant risk the price could go higher during the summer".