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Finland's petrol prices 5th highest in EU

As activists in Sweden and France protest petrol price hikes, gas actually costs more in Finland.

nainen tankkaamassa
File photo of person filling vehicle gas tank. Image: Ismo Pekkarinen / AOP

Petrol prices have been steadily going up across the EU and Finnish drivers pay the fifth most in the union, according to a survey by the European Commission.

Every week the commission publishes lists of gasoline prices in EU countries, the most recent of which was carried out on 6 May.

At the beginning of last week 95-octane petrol was most expensive in the Netherlands, where it cost 1.72 euros per litre. Denmark ranked the second-highest price for petrol, at 1.68 euros, with Greece at 1,65 euros per litre. Just ahead of Finland was Italy, at 1.63 euro per litre.

Drivers in Finland paid 1.59 euros but in Sweden gas cost less, at 1.56 euros per litre. The most affordable petrol was found in Bulgaria, where a litre cost 1.11 euros.

There are many factors behind the fluctuation of global petroleum prices, but because the price of crude oil is based on the US dollar, changes to global currency values also heavily affect petroleum product prices.

Gasoline prices also tend to rise during the summer months when people climb into cars for holiday trips, raising demand for petrol - as well as its price.

Helsinki petrol station

Tiina Matela, who was pumping gas at a petrol station in Helsinki said she was not happy with the price hikes.

"You feel it in your wallet when prices go up, and start to wonder whether you can really afford to fill up the car," she said, pointing out that since she lives downtown she doesn't need to drive every day.

"You need to think about the environment, too. Trips across Helsinki are so short that you can walk or take a bus. But when you have to take the kids around, a car is necessary," Matela said.

According to fuelseurope.com, the majority of the price of gasoline in Europe is made up of tariffs and VAT.

Story continues after photo.

Liikenneruuhkaa kaupungissa.
File photo of vehicle traffic. Image: Esko Jämsä / AOP

Protests in France, planned in Sweden

A man in Sweden tired of petrol's rising costs sparked a grass-roots movement on Facebook, and so far nearly half a million people have joined it.

Sixty-nine-year-old Swede Janne Berglund only started the group in April and told the country's national broadcaster SVT he wanted to call people to action in order to get politicians to lower fuel taxes.

Last autumn, yellow-vested protesters in France also took their grievances - sometimes violently - about economic justice to city streets, Part of their demands were to get policymakers to take action about the rising costs of gasoline.

Berglund's Swedish group is also planning outdoor demonstrations. The group's moderator Peder Blohm Bokenhielm told newspaper Expressen that the group intends to remain active until something is done to lower gas prices.

However in Helsinki, Matela said she doesn't think protests will work.

"I don't believe in that kind of thing. I'd prefer a national discussion about the issue be started, rather than to start a fuss. [The Swedish group] sounds quite a lot like the demonstrations in France," Matela said.

Another customer at the Helsinki petrol pumps, Jyrki Rahkonen, said he doesn't follow petrol price fluctuations very carefully.

"The price goes up and down, the differences are that big. Of course prices are pretty high, but then they've always been," Rahkonen said

He said he drives a larger model car because of his job, and that he thinks it is up to car manufacturers to make vehicles as environmentally-friendly as possible.

"It's silly to blame us [drivers] who need their cars for not thinking about the environment," he said, saying that he thinks the outcry in Sweden about fuel prices might be a good idea.

Story continues after photo.

Polttoainetta valuu tankkauspistoolista.
File photo of petrol nozzle. Image: Yahay Arhab / EPA

Reasons behind fluctuations

Senior advisor at Finnish petroleum giant Neste, Lauri Kärnä, said that petrol prices went down last year due to overproduction. This year, he said prices went up due to planned - as well as unplanned - cuts in production at refineries.

According to recent news reports, the quality of Russian oil headed to Europe via pipelines was significantly tainted by organic chloride contamination towards the end of last month.

Kärnä said a large amount of the Russian oil was unusable, and contributed to rising prices at the pump around the world.

The ongoing trade war between the US and China is expected to stagnate the global economy, a situation which might, according to Kärnä, bring petrol prices downward.

However, an actual war or other conflict would bring gas prices even further upward, he said.

"Think of the environment"

Another customer at the Helsinki gas pump, Ville Parkkulainen, said he would prefer to ride his bike than drive a car.

"I drive very little, so the prices don't really affect me. But you really still need a car if you live in Finland. The kids have hobbies and then there's trips to get a bunch of groceries at the supermarket. But if it's a short trip, I'll take the bike instead," he said.

Parkkulainen said he doesn't think raising fuel prices would help to get people to drive less in Finland, however.

"A carrot should be offered, rather than a stick. People who don't care about the environment will just get upset over the higher prices. Those like me who care about the environment fill up their cars and drive less. Taking the climate into consideration is the solution," he said.

While Finland's petrol prices are relatively high, drivers in Hong Kong pay the most in the world. Gasoline in Hong Kong costs around 1.96 euros per litre, according to globalpetrolprices.com.

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