A recent news headline in Medellín’s local newspaper El Colombiano reported that the price of gasoline in Medellín dropped to the lowest price for regular gasoline (corriente) in terms of Colombian pesos in the city since December 2010 – below 8,000 pesos per gallon. Per the newspaper, the price of gasoline in Medellín has dropped to 7,911 pesos ($3.17) for a gallon of regular and 7,791 pesos ($3.12) for a gallon of diesel.
However, I have already seen some prices even a bit lower. For example, at an Esso gas station on Calle 30 in Belén, I saw a price of 7,890 pesos ($3.16) for a gallon of regular and 7,790 pesos for a gallon of diesel.
The latest price drop of 300 pesos was due to the government changing the reference price for fuel. In Colombia the government has the power to manipulate fuel prices. There is some speculation that the government dropped the fuel price to counter strike by truckers. However, truckers are striking for better freight rates and retirement conditions.
With the inexpensive taxis, buses and the metro in Medellín many foreigners in the city choose to not have cars. But some foreigners still do have cars or motorcycles. And some foreigners in the city occasionally rent cars to go on road trips to nearby pueblos. I have rented cars a few times to visit Jardín, Guatapé and Santa Fé de Antioquia.
Even with the drop in price, Medellín still has higher prices for gasoline than in the United States. On February 24, the average price of regular gasoline in the United States was $2.31 and for diesel it was $2.70 according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report.
How does the gasoline price compare to other countries?
Venezuela, which is next door to Colombia, has an insanely low price of gasoline of about 6 cents per gallon thanks to heavy government subsidies, which make it the cheapest gasoline in the world.
The fuel subsidies cost Venezuela upwards of $12-15 billion per year and have spawned powerful gas smuggling rings to Colombia. For enterprising black market entrepreneurs there is a huge profit to be made, even after bribing troops and guerrillas along the border.
In South America, Bolivia and Ecuador also have lower gasoline prices than Colombia due to fuel subsidies. In Bolivia it is about $1.88 cents per gallon and in Ecuador about $2.20 cents per gallon according to to GlobalPetroPrices.com. In several other countries in South America the price of gasoline per gallon is more expensive than in Colombia according to GlobalPetroPrices.com:
- Peru – $3.82
- Brazil – $4.35
- Chile – $4.37
- Argentina – $4.97
The Bottom Line
The lower price of gasoline in Medellín should be welcome to those with a car. The price of gas is one of a few things in Medellín that is more expensive than in the United States. A car is another item that is typically much more expensive than in the United States due a high import duty for automobiles of about 35% in Colombia. However, it is possible to live in Medellín without a car with the inexpensive taxis, buses and the metro in the city, which would enable avoiding the need to buy a car and the ongoing expense of gasoline.