The competition regulator’s Report on the Australian petroleum market for the June 2018 quarter revealed a marked spike in prices in the five largest cities since March this year, soaring to hit 153.7 cents per litre at the start of June, before easing back slightly in July.
According to the report, petrol prices sat at an average of 134.5 cents per litre in the 2018 financial year – a hefty 11.9 cents per litre higher than the previous year, and the highest since 2014-15.
Businesses and motorists in Brisbane were slugged the highest amount for fuel, with prices consistently sitting an average of 3.1 cents higher than those in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide over the last two years.
Interestingly, while fuel costs have traditionally been higher in Canberra, Hobart and Darwin than the other capitals, this margin decreased by 7.3 cents per litre in the June quarter.
But that was not the case for motorists in regional areas, where the gap actually widened to be 4.9 cents per litre higher.
“The major factors driving higher prices were an increase in international crude oil and refined petrol prices, and a lower AUD-USD exchange rate,” Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chair Rod Sims said.
“The OPEC cartel in particular continues to have a damaging effect on Australian petrol prices. In late-2016 OPEC, and some other crude oil producing countries, agreed to cut production. This restricted supply into the market, which has clearly started to bite through steadily increasing petrol prices in the past financial year.”
Mr Sims added: “A weaker Aussie dollar has also increased costs for wholesalers buying petrol for the Australian market, which flows through to consumers who pay for this at the pump.”
In February this year, Mr Sims criticised petrol retailers for gouging Australian motorists, revealing that at the time “petrol retailers’ margins are the highest they have ever been and motorists are paying for it”.