The 15 percent increase in oil prices over the past five months has led to the Maldives spending almost US$100,000 more on fossil fuels, per day.
Customs figures obtained by Minivan News reveal the true extent of the country’s chronic addiction to fossil fuels, and extraordinary vulnerability to even minor price rises.
In 2010, the Maldives spent over US$245 million on fuel (including marine diesel, aviation gas, propane and petrol) – disturbingly, almost a quarter of the country’s US$1 billion GDP.
The vast proportion (US$200 million) of the country’s fuel spend was on marine diesel. Petrol accounted for US$24 million, liquefied propane US$10 million, and aviation fuel US$12 million.
This represents a daily expenditure of US$670,000 to meet the country’s fuel needs, approximately US$800 per person per year in a country where the average annual income is under US$5000.
Oil is currently US$86 a barrel after trending a 15 percent increase over the past five months, which shows no sign of slowing. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), together with other analysts, have confidently tipped that oil will reach an average $90 a barrel in 2011, and potentially top US$100.
The figures also reveal that the Maldives is highly dependent on several countries for most of its fuel – Singapore (for aviation fuel), the UAE (petrol) and the Bahamas (marine diesel).
The revelation of the extent of marine fuel consumed in the country – over 2 million barrels annually – is one that President Nasheed’s Energy Advisor Mike Mason suggests is a strong argument for a return to sailing.
“I think there is a huge opportunity to take a knowledge of sail, wind and current – the thinking that has served the Maldives well for 2000 years – and apply modern technology such as solar to create a new transport paradigm. A sailing vessel with a modern hull, utilising modern technology can reach 30-40 knots, and would greatly reduce the reliance on diesel.”