SEOUL, Jan. 9 (Korea Bizwire) — The South Korean government on Friday pressured the oil and gas industry to further cut petroleum prices as it pushes to pass on the benefit of tumbling global oil prices to consumers to spur spending.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy asked for “cooperation” of petroleum industry officials to encourage gas stations and distributors of liquefied petroleum gas to lower their prices, saying there is room for more cuts.
“It is believed that falling global oil prices are not reflected enough in domestic retail prices in some channels of distribution,” Chae Hee-bong, the ministry’s energy policy director, said in a meeting with representatives from the industry. “We ask that (the industry’s) associations encourage members to slash oil prices so that the general public can benefit from cheaper oil prices.”
International oil prices more than halved in January compared to a year ago. Dubai crude tumbled from $104.01 per barrel in January 2014 to $46.60 earlier this week.
Domestic gasoline and diesel have also been going down. The average gas price was 1,861.28 won per liter in June, but it sank to 1,564.07 won as of Wednesday, according to the latest price chart by the Korea National Oil Corporation. Diesel fell from 1,670.23 won to 1,380.06 won in the same period.
The ministry said it will closely monitor retail prices and narrow price gaps through competition.
The meeting was convened after Finance Minister Choi Kyung-hwan on Wednesday pledged to step up efforts to make sure the drop in oil prices is reflected in consumer prices in a timely manner to boost spending and investment.