With reporting by Riham Sheble
The price of petrol in Qatar is set to increase by more than 30 percent in a surprise hike that starts at midnight tonight (Jan 14/15).
Memos went up at fuel stations across the country today giving just a few hours’ notices of the hikes. A representative at the Woqod station in West Bay confirmed the increases.
Super (97) will cost QR1.30/liter – up 30 percent from its previous price of QR1/liter, while the price of Premium (90) has gone up 35 percent from QR0.85/liter to QR1.15.
Gold petrol will rise to QR1.25 a liter.
No official announcements of the price rises have been made, but word appears to have spread quickly and there are already long lines reported at many fuel stations as residents rush to fill their vehicles’ tanks ahead of the start of the new pricing structure.
— Sumit Pond Malhotra (@sumitisnow) January 14, 2016
Qatar is the fourth Gulf county to raise petrol prices in a little more than two weeks. Qatar’s consumer petrol costs now rank in the middle of the GCC, slightly more than Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
They come amid tumbling global oil prices and tighter government spending.
Issued by state fuel company Qatar Fuel (Woqod), the Arabic memo is dated today (Jan. 14) in the name of its executive director Ibrahim Jaham al-Kuwari and is addressed to the managers of all commercial petrol stations.
The memo says that all owners and managers of fuel stations must start using the new prices from 12am on Friday (Jan. 15), and to advise all customers of the new tariffs before supplying them with petrol.
Signs with the official announcement must be visibly displayed for all customers to see, and all meters, signs and stickers displaying the prices on the fuel pumps must be changed to reflect the new prices as soon as possible, it adds.
Qatar’s sudden petrol hike follow similar moves in recent months to roll back consumer subsidies for postal services and electricity as the government tries to rein in spending amid the state’s first budget deficit in 15 years.
The country last increased petrol prices in 2011, when consumers were similarly only given a few hours of notice, The Peninsula reported.
More recently, Qatar increased diesel prices by 50 percent in 2014 in what was believed to be an attempt to reduce smuggling.
Despite the rises, fuel is still subsidized by the state in Qatar.
Other GCC countries
Qatar is the fourth Gulf county to raise petrol prices in slightly more than two weeks.
Earlier this week, Bahrain’s state news agency announced petrol prices would be increasing by more than 50 percent to 125 fils (QR1.21) per liter for 91 octane and 160 fils (QR1.55) per liter for 95 octane.
The Gulf state previously signalled that it planned to reduce consume subsidies for expats by raising prices while providing citizens with cash payments.
Oman is also raising its petrol prices on Friday, hiking the consumer cost of premium fuel by 33 percent and regular fuel by 23 percent, the Associated Press reported.
Petrol in the Sultanate will now cost OR0.16 (QR1.51) per liter of 95 octane and OR0.14 (QR1.32) per liter of 90 octane.
Elsewhere, Saudi Arabia increased prices between 50 percent and 66 percent on Dec. 29 a day after the government would run the largest budget deficit in the kingdom’s history. Saudi motorists now pay SAR0.75 (QR0.73) per liter of octane 91 and SAR0.90 (QR0.87) per liter of octane 95.
Kuwait is also reportedly preparing to raise prices.
The UAE government has taken a different approach than the other GCC countries.
It “deregulated” petrol prices in mid-2015 and now dictates consumer rates each month, based on global oil prices.
In January 2016, the Ministry of Energy dropped prices for the fifth straight month to DH1.51 (QR1.50) for a liter of E Plus 91, DH1.58 (QR1.57) for a liter of Special 95 and DH1.68 (QR1.67) for a liter of Super 98, according to the Gulf News.