Cheapest petrol now over $2 a litre

ALL petrol grades have breached the $2 mark, hitting 2 1/2-year highs, following the latest price increase of four cents a litre last Friday.
The last time petrol was in the $2 territory across the board was in 2008.
A litre of 92-octane petrol, the cheapest grade, is now $2.017. The 95 grade costs $2.077, and the 98-octane, between $2.13 and $2.15.
Shell’s V-Power, marketed as an ‘ultra-premium 98’, is the costliest fuel at $2.359 a litre, while Caltex’s rival Platinum 98 is now at $2.215.
Diesel, used by taxis and commercial vehicles, is now between $1.60 and $1.603 a litre.
All prices are before various discounts.
The price spiral comes on the back of rising crude oil rates, which in turn has been driven by the unrest in the Middle East and North Africa.
Observers say that as the turmoil there shows no sign of abating, oil prices will continue on the uptrend.
Mr Ng Weng Hoong, the editor of energy news portal EnergyAsia, said the situation is dire.
He noted that unverified figures put the global spare capacity of oil at 5.5 million to six million barrels a day, with Saudi Arabia holding four to five million of that.
He also noted that Libya’s oil production has fallen from 1.6 million barrels a day to 0.6 million a day since its troubles began.
‘And Libyan crude is the good quality stuff – light and sweet. So the spare capacity that the Saudis said they will pump is not going to make up for that.’
Meanwhile, there is worry that the unrest will spread to the neighbouring oil producers, including Oman, Algeria and Bahrain.
And the crisis in Egypt has not settled yet, Mr Ng added.
Meanwhile, the United States has moved its warships closer to Libya, and European countries such as Italy and France are mulling military intervention.
‘China, which has huge investments in the region, may also send in ships,’ Mr Ng said. ‘The whole area is a powder keg for US$200 oil.’
The industry watcher said he is sticking to his prediction of oil reaching US$200 a barrel by 2013. Other analysts have also come out lately to say that US$200 oil is an eventuality.
Oil shot up from US$100 a barrel to a record US$147 a barrel in the first seven months of 2008 before easing with the global financial meltdown.
US crude futures for next month now hover at around US$106 a barrel, while Brent crude – which oil traders regard as the more relevant commodity – is trading at around US$117 a barrel.
Oil industry consultant Ong Eng Tong believes, however, that US crude is unlikely to cross US$110 a barrel.
He said: ‘At that price, there’ll be very serious economic implications for Europe. France and Italy will send in fighter jets before that happens.’
Meanwhile, motorists are starting to feel the pinch, with petrol breaching the $2-a-litre mark.
Mr Gilbert von der Aue, who heads C. Melchers’ oil and gas department, said: ‘We’re already seeing more enquiries from people who want to convert their cars to run on compressed natural gas.’

Vehicle growth rate slowest in 5 years

DRASTIC cuts in the supply of certificates of entitlement (COEs) have put a brake on the vehicle population’s turbocharged growth rate.
According to Land Transport Authority (LTA) statistics, the total number of vehicles stood at 945,829 as of end-2010, up 2.2 per cent from 2009.
The car population was up 3.2 per cent to 597,746.
Although the growth rates still bust the 1.5 per cent annual cap worked into the COE system, they are the smallest increases in the last five years.

Car rental business up by 25-30% this Lunar New Year

The car rental business is up this Lunar New Year season. Industry players said that compared to the same period last year, it has gone up 25 to 30 per cent.

Rental cars are a popular option to ferry family and friends this festive season.

K K Ho, general manager of Popular Rent A Car, said: “We figured it is because of the recovery of the economy and also because of the sudden rise in COE, which (are) some reasons why the buyers, some of those who find it too expensive to buy a car, world prefer to rent a car instead.”

Some companies said their car rental fleet was booked way ahead this year.

But the downside to the high demand is that prices are being jacked up by at least 20 per cent across the industry.

Customers however do not seem to mind the extra cost, as long as they can get their hands on a set of hired wheels.

One customer, Esther Loo, said: “The rental fee is kind of higher this year. But I think it is is still more economical because car prices are high due to the increase in COEs.”

Meanwhile, unlike mass market vehicles, demand for cars such as Ferraris and Lamborghinis has been more or less constant compared to the previous year.

Chris Cheah, operations manager at Luxe Car Rental, said: “These cars cater to a very niche clientele and not only that; during the Chinese New Year period, people go visiting a lot. So these cars are not very practical, you can’t really carry a lot of people and a lot of stuff. You can’t park in a lot of car parks, so I do not see a big difference in the demand.”

However, sales of such cars have spiked with more Singaporeans getting affluent.

Luxe Rental, the first car rental company in Singapore to offer these high-end cars, said it expects demand in future to grow in tandem. Thus, it is looking at increasing its fleet to meet any increase in future demand.

3 new ERP gantries from Feb 21

THE Shenton Way-Chinatown Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) cordon will be extended from Feb 21.
There will be three new gantries in operation from that day, as the Land Transport Authority (LTA) adjusts the ERP cordon to include the Marina Bay Financial Centre as part of the larger Central Business District.
The existing gantry along Central Boulevard will be removed as part of the adjustments.
In its place, two new gantries will operate as part of the Shenton Way-Chinatown cordon.
The first is along the road

from Maxwell Road leading to Central Boulevard, and the other is along Marina Station Road leading into Central Boulevard.
A third gantry will operate along west-bound Bayfront Avenue as part of the Singapore River Line ERP gantries, together with the existing gantry along east-bound Bayfront Avenue towards Raffles Avenue.
The new gantries will follow prevailing rates and operating hours for the existing Shenton Way-Chinatown cordon and the Singapore River Line respectively.

There will be 71 operational ERP gantries islandwide as of Feb 21.

Fewer people taking up driving lessons

The number of people taking up lessons to get their driving licences is estimated to have dipped by 30 per cent between the period from January to September last year, and the same period the year before.

At least one driving centre has, in recent months, downsized its fleet of cars because of the dip in enrolment.

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The rising cost of purchasing a car and Singapore’s declining birth rate are some possible reasons for the decline, say transport analysts and driving instructors.

Between January and September last year, 44,700 provisional driving licences (PDLs) were issued by the Traffic Police. The number stood at 77,000 for the 2009 calendar year. In 2008, 70,400 PDLs were issued.