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Iran sanctions push petrol prices to all-time high

Retail prices of premium gasoline in Korea hit their highest levels ever on Feb. 14, driven by rising tensions in the Middle East, government data showed Thursday.

Premium unleaded petrol was sold at an average 2,216.15 won ($1.96) per liter at pumps nationwide, according to Opinet, a website of real-time gas price comparisons run by the state-run Korean National Oil Corp.

That is up almost 8.6 percent from a year ago and 2.6 won more expensive than the previous high of 2,213.55 won on Oct. 23, 2011.

Pump prices of regular gas are also nudging toward a fresh high.

Regular unleaded petrol, which accounts for about 99 percent of total retail sales, was sold at an average 1,983.41 won per liter nationwide on Feb. 14. The current record high of 1.993,17 won was set on Oct. 31, 2011.

Fuel prices went up by about 50 won per liter since a Jan. 6 turnaround, following a 40-day streak of increases.

“The discord between Iran and the West, Europe’s cold snap and the weakening dollar are coming together to uphold this upward trend in international oil prices,” the KNOC said.

On Thursday, Korea’s benchmark Dubai crude surged 1.18 percent to $116.43 a barrel. The average retail price of regular gasoline in Seoul was 2,055.70 won per liter.

Korea almost entirely relies on imports for its energy needs. An array of national and local taxes makes up about 57.3 percent of pump prices, according to the Ministry of Strategy and Finance.

By Shin Hyon-hee (heeshin@heraldcorp.com)
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