The price of gasoline sold in South Korea has more than doubled since 1997 when the country lifted restrictions on oil prices, industry data showed Sunday.
According to the data compiled by the Korea National Oil Corp. (KNOC), the gasoline price at the pump averaged 1,929 won (US$1.73) per liter last year, up 130% from 838 won in 1997.
The price of diesel also skyrocketed over the cited period. A liter of diesel oil was 376 won in 1997 but jumped 364% to 1,745 won in 2011.
The KNOC data showed the gasoline price has risen at an annual average of 7.9% for the 14-year period, except in 2002 and 2009 in the face of global financial crisis, South Korea’s News Agency (Yonhap) reported.
The annual growth rate of diesel averaged 16%, far higher than the country’s average inflation of 3.4% over the same period, said the data.
Market insiders said a global oil price hike stemming from fast economic growth in China and India contributed to South Korea’s higher gas prices at the pump. An oil speculation boom also triggered a sharp increase in crude oil prices, they added.
The average price of Dubai crude, which makes up the bulk of South Korea’s oil imports, shot up 483% from $18 in 1997 to $106 in 2011.
“The global oil price will fluctuate more widely as it is barely controlled by supply and demand in the
free market,” said an official in the country’s oil industry. “South Korea’s gas prices will be also highly volatile in the future.”