The UAE has the highest petrol price in the oil-rich Gulf and the third in the Arab world.
Official data showed the UAE, the second largest Arab economy, was ahead of all other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in terms of fuel prices and third only to Syria and Tunisia in the entire Arab region.
The UAE has the fourth largest hydrocarbon wealth in the region.
At the end of 2011, gasoline prices in the UAE stood at Dh1.52 for regular petrol and Dh1.78 for premium type, according to the Kuwaiti-based Organisation of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC).
In Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, petrol was sold at around 45 fils for regular type and 60 fils for premium petrol at the end of 2011.
Petrol prices stood at about 50 fils and 55 fils for both types while they were estimated at 70 and 80 fils in Qatar, Dhone in Bahrain and Dh1.2 in Oman.
Regular petrol price in Syria stood at more than Dhtwo at the current pound rate while in Tunisia it was around Dh2.56. Gasoline prices in the remaining Arab nations were below those of the UAE.
Petrol in Egypt, which controls only around 4.5 billion barrels of proven crude wealth, was sold at Dhone at the end of 2011 despite political unrest. In conflict-battered Iraq, gasoline prices stood at nearly Dh1.2 at the end of 2011,
In Libya, petrol prices stood at as low as Dh0.51 per litre before the crisis while petrol was sold at about Dh1.1 in Algeria, the report showed.
The UAE had relatively low petrol prices before a series of price hikes over the past three years. Officials argue that prices are not too high compared with those in the west as they are still heavily subsidized.
Analysts explain that UAE petrol prices are higher than those in the other GCC members because some suppliers in the country import gasoline from other countries, which follow market prices.
At the start of 2011, the UAE has the fourth largest refining capacity in the Arab world after Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq, with output standing at 798,000 bpd. But most of the production is based in Abu Dhabi although there are plans to set up new refining units in the northern emirates.
The country’s gasoline production is also the sixth largest in the region after Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, Egypt and Algeria, standing at 48,000 bpd. Gasoline consumption stood at 92,000 bpd last year, which means the UAE has to import nearly 44,000 bpd to fully meet domestic demand.
In a recent study, a London-based energy centre said the UAE has the lowest subsidies on fuel prices among oil producers.
The Centre for Global Energy Studies, which is owned by former Saudi oil minister Sheikh Ahmed Zaki al Yamani, said the UAE did not have any subsidy on diesel prices five years ago, while it provided a subsidy of $10 per barrel of gasoline. Subsequently, Abu Dhabi has subsidized diesel.