Sudden petrol price hike hits hard

Narrandera locals have been slugged with high petrol prices this week. Image from Pexels.

Fluctuating petrol prices in Narrandera came under fire yet again this week with one Narrandera businessman who relies on fuel to operate his business describing them as highway robbery.

When he went to fill up his vehicle on Tuesday morning the price for petrol had risen 10 cents a litre overnight.

Gordon Bobbin, who operates a security business in town, depends on fuel and its availability and pricing impacts heavily on his business. Because he sets his prices for security services in advance he is unable to pass on the increasing costs of fuel and these are substantial.

“It’s getting that way that it’s becoming unviable for businesses like mine to operate,” he said.

“There’s no continuity in pricing and there’s no warning and often no valid reason for price increases in fuel.”

Mr Bobbin went to fill up his vehicle at Mobil in Narrandera on Tuesday and found the price had risen almost 10 cents a litre virtually overnight. It was a similar situation with rising prices at other fuel outlets in the town and with the Metro outlet now closed for an indefinite period there is no alternative outlet than the major chains.

“I won’t be filling up in Narrandera if these high prices continue,” he said.

His opinion is obviously shared by other Narrandera residents. There are quite a number of Narrandera motorists who already travel the short distance to Leeton to take advantage of cheaper prices offered, especially at the United outlet there, and it seems that decision is justified.

Fuel prices on the Fuel Check website on Tuesday were 137.9c for United in Leeton, 139.9c for Shell at Leeton and 153.9c at Coles Express at Narrandera.

No prices were available on the website for Mobil or Caltex but a check by the Argus at lunchtime Tuesday revealed Mobil was 152.9c and Caltex 148.9c. Yesterday the prices at Narrandera were 153.9c at Coles Express Shell, 148.9c at Caltex and 152.9c at Mobil.

At nearby Leeton the prices were Mobil 147.9c, Woolworths Caltex 147.9c, United 137.9c and Golden Apple BP 145.9c. Coles Express Shell is unleaded E10, which is supposedly up to three cents a
litre cheaper than unleaded 91.

However it seems this week’s increase was not as unexpected as consumers thought thought. Business Insider Australia warned last week that Singapore prices soared by six per cent driven by renewed concerns surrounding Iran, which is a major global oil producer. The bad news is there’s no relief in sight for motorists with wholesale petrol prices forecast to rise even further in the forthcoming weeks.

Australian broker Commsec said in Australian dollar terms, the price of Singapore gasoline (where most of Australia’s petrol is sourced from) hit fresh three-year highs last week. Chief Economist at Commsec Craig James said when petrol prices go up, they go up sharply which was certainly the case this week. Predictions are that they will soar to above the 160 cents per litre mark, breaking a four year record.

New data revealed in an ACCC in-depth petrol report recently stated that prices for petrol vary significantly by retailer, with Coles Express the most expensive.

ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said independent chains were the lowest priced and Woolworths was generally below the market average price and the quality was the same.

Average prices at Coles Express were the highest and average prices at retail sites where BP and Caltex head office sets the retail price were generally above the market average price.

“The majority of consumers tend to go to the same petrol station every time they fill up. This research shows it might be time to consider which station to fill up at,” Mr Sims said.

He reminded drivers there were plenty of apps they could download for free that would tell them where to buy the cheapest petrol in their area.

“Shopping around has the added benefit of increasing competition by putting pressure on retailers who charge the most to lower their prices,” Mr Sims said.

Comment was sought from the ACCC regarding the price disparity between Leeton and Narrandera but was declined.

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