Multinational oil companies are “hoarding profits at the bowser” at the expense of Australian motorists who are paying premium prices amid job uncertainty due to the coronavirus.
Australian motorists are paying average petrol prices 30 cents per litre (CPL) higher than the wholesale price.
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 CPL, but drivers across the country have yet to enjoy relief.
While unleaded petrol could on Wednesday be bought as cheaply as 87.9 CPL at some western Sydney service stations, Sydney’s average price is at 119.5 CPL and only dropping by 1.5 cents per day.
The gulf between the cheapest and most expensive service stations has hit a record 70 CPL, 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 CPL.
“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 CPL), 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.