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Gasoline prices dip to 1-year low

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)


Amid plunging crude oil prices, the nation’s gasoline retail prices dipped below 1,400 won ($1.15) per liter, the lowest level in a year, industry data showed Tuesday. 

As of March 30, nearly 12,000 gas stations here are selling gasoline at 1,398 won per liter on average, the lowest since April last year when the South Korean government cut the fuel tax, according to the Korea National Oil Corp.’s oil information provider Opinet. 

The weekly gasoline prices also continued to fall for the ninth consecutive week, and even the price of diesel fuel marked the lowest level at 1,204 won since October 2016, officials said. 

“Rise and fall in the international oil prices are normally reflected in local gasoline prices two or three weeks later,” said an industry source from the oil refining sector. “As International oil prices have seen a steep rate of decline, local gas prices will be on downward trend for a couple of weeks, maybe plunging below the 1,200 (won) level.”

Earlier Monday, global oil benchmark Brent crude plummeted to a 17-year low of $20.09 per barrel and US crude sharply sank below $20 per barrel. 
 
Market watchers speculated that price war between major oil producers contributed to the drop in crude oil prices. 
 
“Saudi Arabia’s state-run oil giant Saudi Aramco has announced that it would increase its crude oil production to 12.3 million barrels a day in April,” said an analyst at KB Securities and Investment in a report. “International oil prices will further drop in April and May accordingly.”
 
Saudi Arabia’s move came after Russia has opposed its proposal to cut oil production to stabilize oversupplied oil markets.
 
Local gasoline prices are forecast to further dive considering demand for gasoline has been falling as residents drive less as part of social distancing and strict self-isolation to combat the novel coronavirus, according to market watchers. 

By Choi Jae-hee (cjh@heraldcorp.com
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