Servos stalling on fuel prices

WARWICK motorists would not have noticed any change in local fuel prices yet again yesterday, despite the national wholesale price having fallen by nine cents in early May.

As reported yesterday, prices have fallen in major centres in the three weeks since the Singapore benchmark prices – used to set the Australian wholesale price – fell dramatically on May 6.

Fuel-watchers in the Rose City have been checking the price-boards at servos expectantly, but despite being two hours from Brisbane we’re still paying around six cents more per litre of unleaded petrol (ULP).

Yesterday’s average price for ULP in Brisbane, according to fuel watch website Motormouth, was 137.8 cents per litre, with the lowest price in the big smoke down to 1.33.9c.

Likewise, in Toowoomba, motorists there were yesterday paying an average of 137.8c and at Aratula, just on the other side of the Range, ULP is selling for 136c.

But here in Warwick, all outlets along the highway through town resolutely kept their prices on average around the 143c mark, where they have been all week.

A check of prices late yesterday showed the high ULP price was at the Caltex on Wallace Street, at 144.9c and 147.9c for diesel.

The cheapest – if you can call it that – was 142.7c at the Caltex Woolworths and Shell on Albion St and the United on Wallace St.

All the rest were at 142.9c but in all cases there was no change from prices at the end of Tuesday, when the Daily News did its first survey.

University of New South Wales Professor Fred Zumbo – a respected consumer protection and competition expert – this week blasted oil companies and retailers for not passing on the Singapore price dip uniformly across the country.

Prof Zumo produced a series of pricing analyses in a random spread of regional centres around the country, one of which was Warwick.

“The trouble with places like Warwick is that there tends to be a lack of strong local competition,” he said.

“The usual excuse the fuel companies and the retailers give after an overseas price drop is that it takes betweem 10 to 14 days to flow through across Australia.

“But it’s a blatant rip-off and in any case we are now only a few days short of a month since the Singapore benchmark price came down.”

The Singapore market provides a benchmark for crude oil pricing in the Asia Pacific, and is set by independent agency Platts.

Refiners add their costs to the Singapore price to come up with a wholesale price, before retailers add their final margin.

Professor Frank Zumbo has previously claimed the Singapore benchmark is open to manipulation and artificial inflation.


Tips to save:

When sitting at the lights put your car in neutral.

Roll down hills without accelerating.

Drive smoothly, not flat chat 100% of the time.

Don’t drive to work everyday.

Service your car regularly.

High Octane petrol can help you get more from each tank

Lighten your car’s weight.

When filling up, keep the hose in the tank until after the pump shuts off – as much as a half cup of petrol is in the hose after the pump stops.

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