The international fuel conundrum

Something has been puzzling me about one big difference between England and Spain. A difference that effects everyone’s every day life, underlies the very fabric of commerce, and generates exasperation across the globe.

The cost of vehicle fuel.

There is a nice graphic on which shows that almost fifty-nine percent of what we pay in the UK goes to the government in duty and VAT. The vendor (petrol station) gets just under four percent, and the product itself costs just under thirty-eight percent of what we pay for each litre.


I understand all that, and if you never left the shores of the UK you’d probably accept it. You’d obviously grumble every time you filled up, but know that there was no alternative if you wanted to use a car.

But here is where I am confused.

The last time that we were in Spain a litre of diesel cost 1.289€ and unleaded was 1.396€. To begin with, diesel was the equivalent of £1.10 a litre, and unleaded was £1.19 a litre.


Why then are we paying £1.389 for diesel and £1.349 for Unleaded?

That’s 29p more for a litre of diesel, and 16p more for a litre of unleaded. For a sixty litre tank that is an additional £17.40 to fill up with diesel and £9.60 for a tank of unleaded.

But even more confusing is the difference between the cost of diesel and unleaded. In the UK diesel is four pence a litre more expensive, whereas in Spain it is just over ten cents cheaper. How can it be cheaper in one country and more expensive in the other?

I’d like to add that the difference is a little less stark than it was six to twelve months ago as the price in the UK has actually fallen whereas it has increased in Spain.

Somewhere, a population is being taken for mugs….and I suspect I know where!

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