While Brazil, which is self-sufficient in oil, charges US$ 0.91 a liter (US$ 3.44 a gallon) for premium gasoline, and Venezuelans pay 4 cents a liter (15 cents a gallon), Uruguay with no oil or gas reserves has the highest fuel prices in Latin America: US$ 1.35 a liter (US$ 5.10 a gallon).
Compare this to the top values such as Holland where premium at the pump costs US$ 1.91 a liter (US$ 7.22 a gallon). Americans, on the other hand, are paying in average US$ 3.09 a gallon for the product.
Fuel prices in Uruguay are set by the government owned oil refining company, ANCAP, based on international crude oil estimates and vary, up or down, a given percentage of a fixed monthly estimate.
ANCAP's reference is West Texas Intermediate and so far this month has been floating at an average 63.33 US dollars the barrel, 2.83 US dollars above the April ANCAP reference so a new hike is expected any moment.
Fuel prices in Uruguay last increased on March 8 with premium gasoline soaring 9.7% and gas oil, 35.4%. The current administration is also trying to cut the difference between gasoline and gas oil prices since policy so far has been that the mix of prices favored fuel for diesel engines, mostly used for public transport and in agriculture
Premium gasoline which in Uruguay currently costs at the pump the equivalent of US$ 1.35, in Argentina sells at US$ 0.65 US; Brazil US$ 0.91; Chile, US$ 0.95; Cuba, US$ 0.90; Nicaragua, US$ 0.77; Panama, US$ 0.65 and Puerto Rico, US$ 0.52 per liter.
However in oil rich Venezuela, ruled by populist President Hugo Chavez, premium sells at four US cents a liter.
Argentina has had fuel prices frozen since 2002, (Premium at 65 cents) which means it has become a natural magnet for gasoline consumers from neighboring countries: Uruguay, Brazil, Chile and Paraguay, who regularly cross to fill their tanks.
Worldwide and according to a report from OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) some of the countries with the cheapest fuel prices include Nigeria, 11 cents per liter; Egypt, 19 cents; Kuwait, 23 cents and Saudi Arabia 27 US cents per liter. On the other end is Holland, 1.91; Norway, 1.84 and Italy, 1.76 US dollars per liter.
Taxes are also one of the main components of fuel costs at the pump, which in Uruguay are close to 70%.