For the first time in 18 years, the price of oil has dropped to below $20 per barrel. This unprecedented low is the result of weeks upon weeks of global lockdowns leading to a record economic slowdown that has slashed prices all around the world… but back in Malta, the prices are still those of August 2019.
This week’s European Commission Weekly Oil Bulletin paints a clear picture of how the European Union’s Member States have been affected by the current COVID-19 pandemic and what that’s meant to the continent’s fuel prices, but you’d be fooled into thinking nothing’s really hit Malta if you look at our prices.
Aimed at improving the transparency of the EU’s oil prices across the board with the hopes of strengthening the internal market, this week’s Commission Oil Bulletin shows how rapidly most of the countries have had to adjust their prices, with a number of them seeing prices for both petrol and fuel falling to under €1 per litre.
As it stands, however, Malta has the third highest price for petrol and diesel in all of the European Union, with prices going completely unchanged throughout this whole crisis.
Petrol on the island is being sold at 18c higher than average, with diesel close by, 13c5 higher.
Ever since a revision to the law back in 2013, Malta’s fuel prices haven’t fluctuated as regularly as other countries’. But while that’s mostly given the island’s market more stability, it now seems to have backfired.
Differently from the rest of Europe, Malta’s fuel market was revised seven years ago by a then-newly-elected Labour government in an effort to even the playing field.
“We had grown accustomed to the fact that we cannot control the international price of gas,” former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had said of the situation back in September 2013. “But now that we’re in government, in these same realities, we have managed to achieve price stability on gas for families and businesses after demanding that the regulator creates a new framework for the way gas prices are set.”
The new hedging policy that was introduced effectively locks the country’s prices for months, with Malta’s latest price revision arriving all the way back in August 2019.
Back then, of course, every single market on the planet was drastically different, and Malta had in fact increased fuel prices by 3c to 5c, following a similar trend in 2018. Unleaded petrol had increased from €1.36 to €1.41, with diesel going up from €1.23 to €1.28.
Now, seven months and one global pandemic later, prices have yet to budge. For context, fuel prices elsewhere in the European Union have dropped by around 15c per litre on a weekly basis.
It is not yet known whether a revision of Malta’s fuel prices will arrive earlier than usual this year.