Price of butane up; gasoline may be next
With war in Iraq perhaps only days away, and Venezuela
still
reeling from months of political turmoil, it is a
worldwide fact
of life that petroleum prices are going through the
roof.
Today, Belize felt the hard pinch of that reality once
again as
the control price of butane gas took another leap. Here
are
the new rates for hundred pound cylinders: customers in
Belize City will pay seventy-six dollars; Belmopan
seventy-eight dollars; San Ignacio seventy-nine dollars.

Benque Viejo del Carmen will pay the most at eighty
dollars
a tank. In Orange Walk and Corozal, butane will sell for

seventy-five dollars, while Dangriga and Punta Gorda
round
off the list with seventy-two and seventy-three dollars
respectively. This is the third price hike since
September in
the butane industry. Using Belize City as a bench mark,
in
September the price stood at sixty-two dollars, rose to
sixty-eight in October, increased again in January to
seventy
dollars, before reaching today's new rate of seventy-six

dollars. The latest price hikes average eight percent.
Most of
Belize's butane is imported from Mexico, with a lesser
amount originating in Guatemala.

And prices at the gas stations aren't looking much
better.
According to officials at Esso Standard Oil, Belize's
sole
importer of gasoline, diesel and kerosene, the next fuel

shipment is expected to arrive in the country on March
eighteenth. We have been made to understand that the
acquisition price for that shipment will not be
determined until
its arrival in port, but it is almost certain that the
price will go
up. Tonight, a government spokesman tells News 5 that
Belmopan had planned to continue to absorb the cost of
rising acquisition prices until the end of the financial
year, on
March thirty-first. But given the extenuating
circumstances, it
appears that government will have to reassess its
position
and review its revenue situation to determine if it will
be able
to afford what is likely to be a major blow in next
week's
tanker. The pump price in Belize City for premium
gasoline
today stood at six dollars and ninety-five cents a
gallon.

(prices in $BZ)