Will depreciation of Rupee offset Sri Lanka’s advantage on falling oil prices?

December, 14, 2015

The world market prices of oil is rapidly falling with a barrel of WTI crude recording a low of USD 35.62 and a barrel of  Brent crude recording USD 37.93. This has been the lowest prices to be recorded since 2003.

This is the first time since 2003 that the world market price of a barrel of crude oil has hit such a low below the USD 40 level. At that time, the price of a litre of Octane 90 petrol in Sri Lanka was between Rs. 53 to 55 only.

However, the exchange rate of a US dollar at that time was only some Rs. 97. When this fact is taken into consideration, during this 12 year period the Sri Lankan Rupee has depreciated by around 50 per cent as compared against the US dollar. By now the exchange rate of a US dollar in Sri Lankan Rupees is around Rs. 143.

Hence, the Sri Lankan Rupee rapidly depreciating as against the US dollar stands in the way of the Sri Lankan public enjoying the current drop in world market prices of oil. This is because there would not be any significant decrease in the import costs of oil.

Meanwhile, Minister of Petroleum Resources Development Chandima Weerakkody said recently that a new pricing formula for fuel would be presented to the Cabinet soon and that steps would be taken to pass the benefits of the falling world market oil prices to the people.

However, the Minister was careful not to mention exactly when this pricing formula would be introduced.