Gasoline and diesel prices in North Korea have recently increased significantly amid the general surge in market prices following the country’s announcement of a COVID-19 outbreak.
In particular, diesel prices have increased by more than 10,000 KPW, which could have negative effects on North Korea’s agricultural production and distribution activities.
According to Daily NK’s regular market price survey in North Korea, one kilogram of diesel was trading at 10,040 KPW in Pyongyang, 10,100 KPW in Sinuiju and 10,160 KPW in Hyesan on Monday.
It is the first time that diesel prices have crossed the 10,000 KPW line in eight months, after falling into the 3,000 KPW to 4,000 KPW range in September due to a temporary increase in imports.
Diesel prices were between 4,000 KPW and 5,000 KPW as recently as mid-January, meaning they have essentially more than doubled in five months.
Gasoline prices have also increased in recent months. On Monday, the price per kilo of gasoline was 13,200 KPW in Pyongyang, 13,100 KPW in Sinuiju and 13,600 KPW in Hyesan. This is an 83-98% increase from the Daily NK’s January 11 market price survey, when gasoline prices were 6,680 KPW in Pyongyang, 6,970 KPW in Sinuiju and 7,440 KPW in Hyesan.
The increase in fuel prices appears to be due in part to dwindling Russian oil supplies and rising international oil prices resulting from the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. Other major factors could include a crunch in imports due to COVID-19 lockdowns in China and the declining value of the North Korean won, as well as North Korea’s crackdown on private oil sales.
Experts Daily NK spoke to also say anxiety over the spread of COVID-19 may have had an impact on rising oil prices.
Choi Ji Young, a researcher at the Korea Institute for National Unification (KINU), told Daily NK in a phone conversation that she believes North Korea’s trade with China will be limited “for the moment” due to the country’s situation due to COVID-19. .
“This may mean that public anxiety is a major factor in price increases,” she said.
Choi also noted, however, that when travel is restricted, fuel demand would naturally drop. “It is difficult to conclude firmly which factors have a greater influence because the factors that could raise or lower prices have both been present,” she explained.
Meanwhile, soaring North Korean oil prices as well as the spread of COVID-19 are expected to have a significant impact on the country’s agricultural activities.
“The oil used in agriculture is 100% diesel, and it is difficult to find it in the markets,” a source in the country told Daily NK. “We can’t use machines, so we have to do things manually. But we also cannot mobilize labor due to COVID-19, so work is progressing slowly despite the agricultural season. »
With North Korean authorities cracking down on oil sales and channeling imported oil primarily to government agencies, individuals are finding it difficult to buy diesel or gasoline in the markets.
Cho Chung-hui, the head of the South Korean NGO “Good Farmers” and an expert on North Korean agriculture, said he had heard that there were many cases of COVID-19 among students and workers. soldiers, the “hard core of the agricultural mobilizations”. ”
“The sudden spike in the price of diesel needed to run agricultural machinery will also have a negative impact on agriculture this year,” he added.
Translated by David Black. Edited by Robert Lauler.
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