South Africans would be best advised to dust the cobwebs off that bicycle or head for the bus terminus as local fuel prices are not predicted to drop any day soon.
After a fortnight of turmoil on the world stock markets and the threat of a global recession looming ever closer, South Africans and consumers world-wide have been hit where it hurts most in the pocket.
Exchange rate spoils the party
At first, it was the spectre of an oil crunch' that propelled the dollar price per barrel to extraordinary new heights, now it is the dollar/rand exchange rate that is going to keep the petrol price in South Africa massively overpriced. So if you own one of those horrid, gas guzzling', carbon belching SUV's, you are unfortunately going to get burnt.
Earlier in the year the price of oil shot up to well over 0 per barrel, largely due to the global demand threatening to catch up with the supply. The uncertain and often untenable geo-political climate in the Middle East has not done anything to restore confidence in the ongoing and efficient supply of oil.
OPEC battling to keep up with demand
Another factor that has led to the rocketing price of oil is the lower output by OPEC and the fact that oil fields not governed by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries were fast reaching a plateau in production levels. This is not at all surprising when you consider that nearly 96 million barrels of oil are needed each and every day throughout the world.
Recession curbs demand for oil
Global warming experts and carbon emission activists must be grinning right now as the expected recession has one positive impact on the world - the demand for oil is likely to drop even further although we have already witnessed the price of oil drop markedly in the past weeks.
It would normally have been excellent news for the hard-pressed consumer but with the latest Wall Street catastrophe and the news that UK and EU banks are also under enormous pressure, international investors are running shy of emerging markets that could be considered a risk.
Investors seek safety of the dollar
Apart from the fact that investors are turning to the tried and tested markets, they are also seeking a safe haven in the dollar and this, in turn, means the South African rand has taken a huge pasting on the local and international bourses.
No relief in sight
Even though South African banks have managed to evade many of the problems crippling their international counterparts, and most South Africans have been protected from the fallout of the global melt down due to the implementation of the National Credits act and the cautious steering of the economy by Reserve Bank Governor, Tito Mboweni, and incumbent finance minister, Trevor Manuel, South Africans will have think twice before taking any unnecessary road trips.