Multinational oil companies are exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to “hoard profits at the bowser” at the expense of Australian motorists.
Australian motorists are paying average petrol prices 30 cents per litre higher than the wholesale price.
The National Roads and Motorists’ Association (NRMA) says the gap between the wholesale and retail price is the largest on record.
Falling global oil demand and the ongoing Russia-Saudi Arabia price war has sent Singapore Mogas – the nation’s international benchmark price – tumbling below $US20 a barrel to an 18-year low.
The wholesale price in Sydney has also fallen to 86.4 cents per litre, but drivers across the country have yet to enjoy relief, instead paying premium prices at a time when many can least afford it..
While unleaded petrol could on Wednesday be bought as cheaply as 87.9 cents per litre at some western Sydney service stations, Sydney’s average price is at 119.5 cents per litre and only dropping by 1.5 cents per day.
Oil prices around the world have plummeted to 18-year lows but you wouldn’t know it if you were filling up in Sydney on April Fool’s Day.
— The NRMA (@NRMA) April 1, 2020
The gulf between the cheapest and most expensive service stations has hit a record 70 cents per litre, according to state motoring body the NRMA.
That means motorists on the wrong end of the equation are forking out $38.50 extra for a standard fuel tank.
NRMA spokesman Peter Khoury said drivers should be paying less than a $1 a litre, in line with Adelaide’s average of 89.6 cents per litre.
“These prices have got to come down. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
“Families are struggling. People don’t know what their job future looks like … this is not the time to be hoarding profits at the bowser.”
Drivers in Canberra (133.8 cents per litre), Melbourne (129.7) and Brisbane (122.1) should also be benefiting from cheaper fuel, Mr Khoury said.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims is monitoring the market but the regulator hasn’t progressed to “naming and shaming” gougers as flagged weeks ago.
Mr Khoury said the NRMA was reluctant to call for reforms to set prices as it would discourage service stations from offering fuel at cut-rate prices.
But he admitted oil companies’ “bizarre behaviour” was making the organisation’s position difficult to justify.
“It’s becoming harder and harder for the NRMA to … continue on this path of competition when clearly there are too many service stations who aren’t prepared to pass on the falls that we’re seeing globally,” Mr Khoury said.