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S. Korea's fuel consumption jumps in May despite higher oil prices: data

A gas station in Seoul shows the retail price of gasoline and diesel on Sunday. (Yonhap)
A gas station in Seoul shows the retail price of gasoline and diesel on Sunday. (Yonhap)

Consumption of gasoline and diesel in South Korea jumped more than 40 percent in May from a month earlier, as expanded fuel tax subsidies channeled pent-up demand from the pandemic, data showed Friday.

The combined consumption of the two fuel types reached 24.82 million barrels, up 43 percent from 17.35 million barrels logged in April, according to the data by Petronet, an online petroleum information provider run by the Korea National Oil Corp.

The surge contrasts with the declining trend seen earlier this year. Consumption had steadily decreased from 21.99 million barrels in January, 18.49 million barrels in February and 18.42 million barrels in March.

The consumption growth came after the government raised the upper ceiling of the fuel tax cut threshold to 30 percent from 20 percent, in a bid to help the industry cope with rising global crude oil prices. The measure took effect from May.

The pent-up demand for travel amid the easing COVID-19 pandemic also led to higher demand ahead of the summer holiday season, according to the KNOC.

"The June consumption could shrink as the higher oil price trend is continuing, before rebounding in July and August considering the seasonal factor," a KNOC official said.

The retail price of gasoline hit an all-time high of 2,064.59 won ($1.59) on June 11, breaking the previous record high after more than 10 years.

The diesel price rose to a record high of 1,953.29 won in May, outstripping the price of gasoline in the same month for the first time in 14 years.

Meanwhile, the consumption of jet fuel reached 2 million barrels in May, up 33.5 percent from the previous month, the KNOC data showed. (Yonhap)

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