Kuwait raises gasoline prices, following Gulf neighbors

By Hussain Al-Qatari, Associated Press


KUWAIT CITY (AP) — Kuwait will raise its subsidized gasoline prices by as much as 83 percent beginning in September, becoming the last Gulf nation to do so as low global oil prices continue to gnaw away at governments across the region.

Kuwait's Cabinet announced the decision on Monday, with the biggest price hike coming for its premium-grade gasoline.

As of Sept. 1, that octane will cost 165 fils a liter (53 cents) instead of 90 fils (30 cents). That's 624 fils ($2.05) a gallon as opposed to 340 fils ($1.12) a gallon previously.

Kuwait's cheapest gasoline will increase in price by 41 percent from 60 fils (20 cents) a liter to 85 fils (26 cents). Its mid-range fuel will go up by 61 percent, from 65 fils (21 cents) to 105 fils (35 cents). That puts the new prices at 321 fils ($1.06) a gallon for the cheapest fuel and 397 fils ($1.30) a gallon for mid-range.

There are 1,000 fils to the Kuwaiti dinar. One dinar is worth $3.31.

The average U.S. price for a gallon of regular gasoline is $2.12, according to AAA.

Subsidized gasoline prices long have been viewed as a national right among citizens of this tiny, oil-rich Mideast emirate and their slashing signals the serious financial pressure it faces. A recent report by the International Monetary Fund estimated that Kuwait's government budgeted about 2.3 billion Kuwaiti dinars ($7.6 billion) to subsidies energy products and water service.

On Tuesday, news of the price increase dominated Kuwaiti newspaper front pages and talk on radio stations.

Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates all have increased their fuel prices over the last year as crude prices plummeted. Worldwide oil prices now sit around $40 a barrel as inventories remain high and the global economy remains mired in a malaise.

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