tatjna (tatjna) wrote,

But what's that got to do with the price of fish?

This morning I was scrolling through my flist and came across an aside comment from someone that it had cost them $52 to fill their car with petrol. Since I also filled my car the other day and it cost me $100, I thought it might be time to do some actual maths.

You see, the person commenting is in the US, and I'm in NZ. The US operates in gallons and NZ operates in litres, and we have different dollar values as well, so there's no real direct comparison and I've always wondered what the difference actually was. And I've read that thing a few times where folks have said that if the price of gas in the US goes over $4 a gallon, it's the start of the apocalypse. Thus, enquiring minds want to know!

So at the current exchange rate, $52US is $66.56NZ. Since my car cost $100NZ to fill, it would indicate that petrol here is more expensive. However, the tanks might be different sizes - mine's 45 litres. So what's the unit price?

US (from here) - looks to be about $3.80 a gallon.

NZ (from here) - $2.19 a litre.

But that's not a direct comparison either. We need to do some converting. I'm gonna go with $US/gallon since we really need to know if the apocalypse is starting yet.

At the current exchange rate, one NZ dollar is 80c US. This means that (2.19 x 0.8) we are paying $1.75US a litre.

And one US gallon is 3.78 litres.

So, $1.75 x 3.78 = New Zealanders are paying US$6.62 (rounded) per gallon of petrol.

OK folks, crack out your chainsaws, the apocalypse has officially started in New Zealand.

As you're probably all aware, the price of petrol has all sorts of flow-on effects in day-to-day life, even on those who don't own a car. Petrol/oil going up causes transport costs to go up, causing commodity costs to go up and so on and so forth. And of course NZ being a country that relies on transport a great deal, being long, skinny and Far Far Away from everyone else, is kind of a slave to the price of petrol. Even the chainsaws we'll use to defend ourselves in the apocalypse use petrol*.

*cough* Anyway.. that's only two countries. What about the rest of the world?

The first site I looked at compares some countries in Indian rupees (with a handy $US converter at the bottom) in 2008. The most expensive in this one was Turkey at Rs113.30/litre (that's $10.13US a gallon). The UK, who have traditionally paid more for petrol than kiwis, were sitting at Rs95.50/litre ($8.54/gallon US). As usual, NZ didn't feature there. But that site's old, so..

Here's a convenient graphic, which actually has New Zealand on it.

Here's one from the UK as of December 2010. Again, NZ doesn't feature but thanks to my handy currency converter, I have gleaned that in the UK they were paying US$7.60/gallon, with Norway the highest at US$8.95/gallon.

And here's the wiki page, which has done all the work for me, actually includes New Zealand and was updated on the 11 of April. It shows that the most expensive petrol in the world is to be had in Turkey at US$9.69/gallon, followed by a bunch of European countries sitting around $8. The cheapest petrol in the world is in Venezuela at 9c followed by Saudi Arabia at 61c. Yes, that's per gallon. That Venezuela price is heavily subsidised by their government whereas European countries tend to tax petrol rather than subsidise it.

What have I learned from this?

Well it seems to me that the price of petrol to me the consumer has little to do with the vagaries of the oil market and a lot to do with the way the government handles taxing vs subsidising it. I'm assuming here that European governments are all for less petrol being used, where as the Venezuelan government perhaps wants to encourage industry and mobility therefore keeps the price low. But I'm just guessing. Also, have you noticed how the prices go up and down without any seeming relationship to the price of anything else? Go figure.

What I do know is that the price of petrol is always relative. I look at those tables and it seems the US has it pretty good. But I'm also aware that to the average person, it isn't about global comparisons, it's about relative prices. So if petrol goes up by 50c a litre (as it has here in the last 6 months), that has a big impact on the choices you make regarding mobility. But the bottom line is that lots of folks in the world spend a larger chunk of their pay packet at the pumps than they used to, and some countries are hit harder than others.

Which isn't exactly rocket science but it was nice to see for myself.

Anyway, in other news THREE MORE SLEEPS! And it seems the lecturer likes my topic if the mark for my proposal is anything to go by. She made some good suggestions as to how to make it better. Now I just have to find time to write it in between *CENSORED DUE TO EXPLICIT CONTENT*

* Yes, I'm equating the standard apocalypse with the zombie one. Although, maybe I shouldn't. The four horsemen probably don't fill up at Caltex, knowwhaddimean?
Tags: apocalypse now, ow mah wallet, peak zombies
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