Gasoline Prices In Serbia

Filling Up This Winter at the local gas station

I’ve been hearing many complaints from Americans about the high price of gasoline in the US. Gasoline averages $3,84 per gallon in April in the US. Experts suspect it will go even higher this summer when the “driving season” comes. President Obama even commissioned a task force to investigate the oil markets to see if there is any price manipulation.

Well, here in Serbia, I would love to pay $4.00 per gallon! The other day I filled up my car and for unleaded, 95 octane, gasoline, the cost was 123 RSD (Republic of Serbia Dinara). 123 RSD is the equivalent of $1.78 US which works out to a whopping $6.74 per gallon!!! Experts in the US are reporting how people are curbing their travel plans or not traveling at all because of the high prices. I wonder what will happen when it reaches Serbian levels.

Europe for a long time has had more expensive gasoline than the US. Public transport here is more accessible and things are closer. Most Serbs I know have only one car, and it usually not the big S.U.V. that Americans drive. I am not that bothered by gasoline prices here because we do not drive much. We live 1 mile from school and seldom venture downtown or across the river for shopping or entertainment. I do feel bad for those people on fixed incomes with long commutes.

I am not sure why gasoline prices are so high in Europe, especially Serbia. I miss those days of living in Venezuela. We lived there from 2002 – 2007 and the government subsidies (photo below of the Venezuelan National Petroleum Company Compound) and exchange rates, made Venezuela to have the cheapest gasoline in the world at 12 US cents per gallon.

PDVSA Natural Gas Headquarters - Anaco, Venezuela

Leaded Gasoline In Serbia

Types of Gasoline In Serbia, originally uploaded by bill kralovec.

There are many little challenges in living in a country other than your own. When we bought a car this year, we needed to fill it up with gasoline. I pull up to a gas station and see these choices of fuel. Which one is for my car?

I immediately eliminated the two choices with “dizel” which is a cognate of diesel. My car is a 1996 Honda Odyssey and requires unleaded gasoline. So what is the difference between the two premium choices? I usually trusted the attendant, as in Serbia, there is no self-service.

I did a bit a research on line and found out that the “BMB” is unleaded fuel and “MB” is leaded fuel. I am surprised that Serbia still uses leaded gasoline. This was phased out in the US in the 1970’s and across much of the world. Leaded gasoline is still used in less developed nations like Afghanistan, Fiji, Iraq, etc. There are three of the former Yugoslavia nations (Bosnia, Macedonia, and Serbia) still using leaded fuel.

Expats to Serbia always complain about people smoking, but rarely do I hear them complain about leaded gasoline. I wonder what the health effects are, especially with my children. We live in relatively traffic free area, but we must still be exposed to lead in the air.

I’ll definitely do some more research on the topic. If any readers of my blog have any thing to add to the discussion, please do so.

I must remember then, to put “BMB” in my car as that is the Unleaded Gasoline. A mnemonic to use is “un” is one extra syllable and “B” is one extra letter. “B” is good, no “B” bad.

This from the “United Nations Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles” report.

Serbia – deadline of 2015 – 2020

The Clearing-House together with the REC country office supported a one-day national round table
discussion 8 May 2006 that included the phase-out of leaded gasoline. The Clearing-House plans to carry out an
awareness campaign that will include blood lead level testing, in cooperation with REC and the Institute of
Public Health of Belgrade.  A ban for phase-out is not clearly defined; according to the National Environmental
Action Program, an optimistic forecast is given as 2015, whereas a ‘business as usual’ deadline would be 2020.
As of 2006, 58% of fuel used was leaded, with no price difference between leaded and unleaded.  Serbia is in the
process of privatizing its refineries, and there is currently no political interest in improving fuel quality in the
country.  The PCFV Clearing-House, together with the US EPA and the REC, plans to participate in the
upcoming UNECE Environment for Europe ministerial conference, Belgrade October 2007 to bring more
attention to the issue.

European Gas Prices

Lots of people ask me how much gas costs in Serbia. I took a photo of the meter when we filled up yesterday at Beopetrol gas station in our neighborhood. I put in 50 liters (13 gallons) into Edelweiss and it cost 3,900 Serbian dinars. That comes to $63 at today’s rate of 62 dinars per 1 US dollar. Doing the math then, that comes to $5.80 per gallon. Much higher than anything in the USA! The “dinara” is the plural for the Serbian currency the Dinar.

We don’t buy a lot of gas as we live very close to our school. Most of our driving consists of a weekly trip to New Belgrade for grocery shopping. We are trying to do more on weekends and that will also mean more gas consumption.

To put the $5.80 into perspective, the average gas price in the USA this week is around $1.60. It is about average for Europe with Norway $7.76 being the high and Estonia being the low $4.30. I sure miss the 12 cents / gallon of Venezuela.