Petrol prices plummet, but what's that got to do with the price of water?

Edith Hancock
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Australian Petrol Prices On The Rise
If you're going to compare petrol with Evian, at least use premium unleaded (Source: Getty)

As we all know, the oil industry is not having a great time. Brent crude fell to below $30 (£20.80) a barrel for the first time since 2004 on Wednesday, and now there’s panic in the press at the idea that petrol, now 86p per litre, might become cheaper than water.

The Institute of Economic Affairs’ Chris Snowdon is not happy with the comparison, venting to The Capitalist yesterday that the price of bottled water compared to pretty much anything else says more about drinks companies than it does about fuel.

The Capitalist is having deja vu here. Just five days ago the Sunday papers were filled with the news that dangerously sugary supermarket brand cola was cheaper than water.

According to the Sunday Times, Tesco and Morrisons launched a 2-4-1 deal on their bottles of pop last week, leaving critics of sugary soft drinks fizzing with outrage. Two bottles of cola: 90p. Two bottles of Highland Spring water: £1.50. Bargain.

Yesterday, Snowdon had just about had it with the comparison of arbitrary liquids to bottled water.

“The idea that these are a direct substitute is stupid”, he tells us, “they will always look for the most expensive brand of water, and frankly if you’re buying that it’s your own fault.”

What does this tell us about the value of oil? “If anything, it tells us that water is too expensive."

Society’s distrust of the bottled water business did not go unnoticed by industry leaders.

Following the news of the UK’s falling fuel prices, the Natural Hydration Council (yes, it's a thing) felt compelled to issue a statement clarifying that the average price of a litre of water is actually just 38p, so we’re a long way off yet.

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