The cheapest petrol in the county

Petrol in Ballinspittle is only €1.819/lt today. That’s the cheapest I’ve seen in a long time.

After listening to this Planet Money podcast about the cost of gasoline I wonder if we will have expensive petrol and diesel forever? Reason being, it’s unlikely that new oil refineries will ever be built again as demand for oil products plummet in the next decade. A guest on the show predicted that a barrel of oil will be $20-$30 in ten years time.

Electric cars are becoming a lot more attractive, but I won’t be looking to buy a new car for quite some time.

For you, my American reader, there are 3.78541 litres in a US gallon. That means the price of gasoline/petrol here is $6.89/gallon.

Aside from all this, the reduction in oil production will have a detrimental effect on sulphur production. It’s a by-product of that system and used by the metal and fertilizer industries. It’s cheap as chips now, but if there’s a shortage, the price of food will skyrocket.

Yikes. Any good news about the future?


The Price of Petrol

The price of petrol in my local filling station in Blarney now stands at €1.259/litre. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it that low here before. The Blarney station isn’t the cheapest in the area but I haven’t visited anywhere else in almost a month. I’ve been told the price went as low as €1.199 elsewhere in the city.

The last time I filled up was about three weeks ago when I remember using a latex glove to hold the pump handle. I’d normally use sanitiser anyway but it seemed prudent to be extra careful. The price then was €1.299/litre, not far from the price when I started recording my fuel usage in 2010 when it was €1.289/litre!

We’re only allowed travel for necessities like shopping, work or caring for others. There are Garda check points. There were reports of Dublin and UK reg cars in West Cork last week prompting the Taoiseach to ask people not to travel. People are sent home again. There’s hardly any air travel. Dublin airport reported only 900 people passed through the airport on Easter Monday when normally there’d be 100,000.

On Monday evening there was only one aircraft flying over Ireland, and that was the coastguard helicopter.

The fall in price wasn’t due to COVID-19, but that contributed to it. Demand for oil was slowing down already but from my experience the price was still at €1.399/litre in early March, and that was probably at one of the cheaper places. The Russians and Opec were having a price war. Opec wanted to reduce pumping but the Russians ignored them and continued pumping. It seems now there was a deal two days ago so we might see prices jump again.

Restrictions are going to continue until May 5th and of course we all know they’ll go on for longer. A vaccine for general use won’t be available until next year so we’ll have to learn to live with it.

My son plays Minecraft with a friend in Sweden who is still going to school. We’re wondering why since schools here have been closed since March 12th. They think that children aren’t super spreaders so there’s no need to close them.

While other countries, or rather, their inhabitants, struggle with varying levels of lockdown, Sweden has relied on relatively few recommendations to try and prevent the spread of the virus.

Nursing homes have been closed to visitors, higher education has been moved online and there’s a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people.

Authorities have also encouraged people to work from home and to avoid unnecessary journeys.

But primary and secondary schools up to the age of 16 remain open, as do hairdressers and gyms, and restaurants and bars can stay open once they offer table service to avoid crowding at counters and bars.

A large emphasis has been placed on personal responsibility, and anyone with symptoms is asked, and trusted to self-isolate.

But is the strategy working?

As of today, over 1,000 Swedes have died from Covid-19, an increase of 114 deaths on the previous day’s figure and around 11,440 have been infected, out of a population of 10 million.

I went out for a cycle. The roads are much quieter. It was lovely. It almost felt normal because I was well away from the few people walking around. I heard birds singing.


I'm still shaking

This morning I almost went straight into the side of another car on a bend.

I drive Jacinta into work and on my way back via Sunday’s Well I got a strong smell of petrol on the quay. It was raining with water pooling at the side of the road and the tell-tale rainbow of the petrol on the road was everywhere. It hadn’t been there a few minutes earlier and traffic was backed up going out of the city. The wrong way considering it’s the morning and we had been stuck for 15 minutes going in ten minutes previously.

Driving up a hill that’s been plastered with petrol is no fun. Other cars were getting stuck, we were stopped and people were getting impatient. I heard the beeping of a horn from somewhere behind me. We weren’t going anywhere and my view was blocked by the van in front of me. Finally the car in trouble started off again so I let go of the hand brake and pressed the accelerator. Nothing, I barely moved. In desperation I slammed on the hand brake again and took a breath checking my rear view mirror to see how much space I had. I tried again, the speedometer said 20mph but the car was barely moving. I heard an awful whining sound and slowly the car inched forward. Finally the tires gripped the road and slowly I made my way up around the corner. The road was clear ahead of me and I had another obstacle.

There’s a steep hill up and over Sunday’s Well and too late I saw the rainbow hues on that bend but I was committed. Slowly I advanced forward, turning the wheel with the corner but to my horror the car kept going forward, right towards a car. I stopped quickly. Thankfully the brakes held, switched off the ignition and hit the flashers before jumping out in case something had happened to my steering. No, the wheels were turned left but had been skidding on the slick petrol film on the road. I got in and abandoned my attempt to go up the hill, instead taking the longer route down the North Mall and up Blarney Street. At the top of that street were the signs of petrol again but it’s level ground and the road is more porous and didn’t present a problem.

I’m only now calm and not shaking. It gave me an awful scare and I’ll be heading into town a different way this afternoon. The Gardai were called and they had received a few calls already. I passed a Garda van on the way home so hopefully they were on the way down to direct traffic and help people.

I’m glad I’m home.