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Petrol breaks €2 barrier in Paris

Garage near Bastille charges symbolic record price for SP95 as Iran, Nigeria and euro troubles push oil price up

LESS than a year after Total chief executive Christophe de Margerie predicted the €2 litre of petrol it has happened. A petrol station on Rue Saint-Antoine, near the Bastille, in Paris, is charging €2.020 for unleaded.

The average price of a litre of SP95 hit a new record of €1.6211 last week and €1.6610 for SP98 - but the price set by the Carbeo garage in Paris 4e yesterday has broken a symbolic barrier.

Margerie told Le Parisien last April "there was no doubt" petrol would hit €2 "the only question is, when".

SP95 represents a little under 15% of the car fuel consumption in France [and SP98 5%] but prices have been rising at a record rate since the end of 2011.

Troubles in countries such as Iran and Nigeria have pushed the price of crude oil higher and this has been compounded by the weakness of the euro against the dollar, the currency in which oil is priced.

Fuel prices threaten to become an election issue after President-candidate Sarkozy laughed off a proposal by Socialist rival François Hollande for a "price freeze" on rising prices. He said it was "a joke" as prices were set by a "wider global market".

However, Hollande said it was possible to freeze prices for three months while the government worked out a "floating" level for the petrol tax TIPP (taxe intérieure sur les produits pétroliers). The tax would rise and fall to even out decreases and increases in the petrol price.

Meanwhile, fishermen have threatened a blockade of the Mediterranean port of Sète in protest at demands to repay €87 million of illegal fuel price subsidies paid between 2004 and 2008. In all, around 700 boat owners are affected and several dozen have threatened to quit the trade.

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