Malaysians do not pump crude oil into their cars, and pump prices are based on the price of refined oil and not the raw material. And we still have the lowest pump prices in the region. This was essentially what Barisan Nasional’s strategic communications team wanted to put through via a statement released yesterday.

Reported by The Star, it was in response to opposition leaders accusing the government of increasing petrol prices for February without basis, as crude oil price for January had dropped and that the ringgit did not weaken compared to the previous month.

The statement explained that the currently employed managed float system (introduced in December 2014) uses the average price of the refined product, specifically the Singapore Means of Platts (MOPS) pricing for petrol and diesel. It added that while the increase in global oil prices in recent months has benefited Malaysia, the price of refined oil products have also increased.

The average price for Singapore’s MOPS MOGAS 95 unleaded petrol was between US$69 (RM305.84) and US$70 (RM310) per barrel last month, higher than the price range of US$62 (RM274.81) and US$68 (RM301.21) in December 2016.

“It was widely reported over the past several months that oil refineries in South-East Asia had enjoyed higher pricing and margins due to an unusually higher than normal number of refineries around the world shutting down from fires and for major maintenance work. This had reduced supply and increased the refineries’ margins and pricing, hence the higher MOGAS 95 prices,” it explained.

The comms team for the ruling coalition added that Malaysia is among the countries to still have consistently low petrol prices relative to other South-East Asian countries, and even globally.

“This is unusual as Malaysia is not a big producer and exporter of oil when compared to the other countries in the top 15 cheapest retail petrol list. In ASEAN, our RM2.30 per litre price for February compares favourably to Indonesia (RM2.73), Thailand (RM4.10), the Philippines (RM3.72) and Singapore (RM6.56),” it said, adding that while Malaysians had to bear with higher prices when global oil prices increased, they had also enjoyed prolonged periods of low petrol prices over the last two years.

The price of RON 95 petrol went up by 20 sen yesterday to RM2.30 per litre. RON 97 prices climbed by the same quantum (to RM2.60) while diesel now costs RM2.15 (up 10 sen) and and RM2.25 per litre for the Euro 5 grade (up 10 sen). The unregulated RON 100 by Petron is now at RM3.05 per litre (up 10 sen).