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Petrol prices rise again

Fuel costs are increasing rapidly this year, taxi drivers complain

PETROL pump prices rose again Sunday to a high of US$1.08 per litre for premium petroleum as fuel retailers in the Kingdom cited the rising cost of oil on international markets for the latest hikes.

On Sunday, Caltex, Total, Tela Cambodia and Total Cambodge were all selling premium petrol for between 4,550 and 4,600 riels per litre ($1.07 to $1.08) from between 4,450 riels and 4,500 riels per litre Saturday. Retailers said they had raised the price of regular fuel earlier in the week.

“We started to increase the price on Tuesday and Wednesday last week,” Stephane Dion, managing director of Total’s downstream operations, said Sunday. It’s “the same reason the oil price has risen – because the crude oil price on international markets has increased”.

Regular grade sold for between 4,300 riels and 4,350 riels per litre on Sunday at Phnom Penh petrol stations, compared with a range of 4,150 riels to 4,200 riels per litre Wednesday.

Crude for April delivery fell 1.1 percent to $81.25 on the New York Mercantile Exchange by the close Friday on weak US consumer sentiment data, the first slide in three days last week.

A Societe Generale’s Cross Asset Research report released the same day said that crude was expected to climb above $90 a barrel in the second half of the year before heading above the all-important $100-a-barrel mark in 2011, a sign that fuel prices are likely to rise further in the Kingdom.

On Sunday, Total’s Excellium remained the highest-priced premium fuel on the Cambodian market at 4,600 riels per litre. “We didn’t increase [the price] much more than other companies, no more than one cent a litre,” Dion said.

The government has in the past criticised foreign fuel sellers for what it says are higher prices than domestic retailers.

Bin May Mialia, business division manager at Thai fuel firm PTT, said oil prices had risen sharply in the past few days.

Chhun Aun, managing director of Tela, and Heu Heng, deputy director general of Sokimex Co, both domestic firms, were not available Sunday.

Last week’s price rises meant retail fuel prices hit the highest level since the start of last year when the economic downturn was at its most severe, a point that was not lost on the capital’s taxi drivers who again complained that their livelihoods were under threat.

“How can I earn a profit to support my family if the oil prices increase every day like this,” said 34-year-old tuk-tuk driver Chin Veasna, complaining that prices were rising in larger increments than they had fallen.

Touch Sea, a 52-year-old taxi driver between Phnom Penh and Takeo province said recent price rises had been rapid. “I earn only 25,000 to 35,000 riels per day.”

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