The consumer watchdog has urged motorists to shop around, following largely OPEC-inspired recent increases in wholesale petrol prices.
“The ACCC is concerned that petrol prices are increasing in Sydney, and those in Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide may increase in the coming days, so motorists should get in early, shop around, and consider filling their tanks before prices jump,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.
ACCC analysis of petrol sales throughout the year indicates that demand for petrol is higher in the weeks leading up to Christmas but falls significantly afterwards. Demand for petrol is relatively low in early-January but picks up again in late-January.
“Motorists are advised to consider purchasing now when petrol prices are relatively low or have not yet reached their peak, and not wait until they need to fill up,” Sims said.
Wholesale petrol prices, reflected in terminal gate prices, are currently at their highest levels since September 2015, due to increases in international crude oil and refined petrol prices. These followed the announcement in late-November 2016 of an agreement by the OPEC cartel to limit production, and a subsequent announcement in mid-December 2016 of an agreement between the OPEC cartel and a number of non-OPEC countries (including Russia) to reduce production. Australian wholesale prices also increased following a decrease in the Australian/US dollar exchange rate.
“Along with the falling exchange rate, the OPEC agreements are the primary reason for increases in wholesale petrol prices over the past six weeks and why motorists are likely to see higher petrol prices in the near future,” Sims said. “The OPEC cartel, therefore, continues to cause Australian motorists to pay much more for petrol than they should.”