Price of diesel at lowest for months

Average cost per litre at service stations across France is €1.31, but fears over the fuel rise after pollution crisis

18 March 2014

THE price of diesel at the pumps at service stations across France has fallen to its lowest level for four months.

The average price of diesel per litre is now 1.4 cents lower than the previous week at €1.31, according to figures published by the Ministry of Ecology and Energy.

The cost of unleaded petrol also fell last week, by 0.77 cents to €1.5045/litre for SP95, and €1.5595 for SP98.

The stability of crude oil prices on the international markets in recent weeks and the relative strength of the euro against the US dollar is being credited for the fall in prices at the pumps.

But it’s not all good news for drivers of diesel vehicles.

For decades, the fuel has been a favourite of French road users. It accounts for 80% of fuel consumption in France and has benefited from a generous tax levy compared to petrol. Even today, it is 20 cents a litre cheaper than petrol, which costs the government €7bn a year in lost tax revenue.

But diesel particulates were a major factor in the air pollution crisis over Paris and Ile-de-France in recent days. According to figures, the fuel contributed 70% of the fine particulates from road traffic emissions.

And France’s love of diesel may be waning.

Yesterday, at the height of the pollution crisis in Paris, two mayoral candidates in the capital talked publicly about considering measures against diesel.

Possible measures discussed include the introduction of “priority zones”, which were first mooted by former president Nicolas Sarkozy, from where the most polluting vehicles would be banned, to the “outright eradication” of diesel in the capital.

Minister of Ecology, Philippe Martin, has said he will meet bosses at Renault and PSA Peugeot Citroën “soon” to discuss the future production of diesel vehicles - but said yesterday that diesel is “not a priority”.

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