The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has named Coles Express as the nation’s highest-priced petrol retailer in a new industry report.
The regulator took the unusual step of naming and shaming some of Australia’s largest fuel retailers who often use loyalty discounts to drive shoppers to their petrol offerings.
The ACCC’s annual petrol report found prices between major retailers across Australia’s largest cities varied by as much 10 cents per litre.
Major retailers Coles Express, BP and Caltex had the highest prices on average while independent chains such as 7-Eleven and United generally had prices lower than the market average.
“Our analysis of petrol prices shows the range between major retailers with the highest average price and lowest average price varied across each city considerably,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.
“Independent chains were the lowest priced in each of the five major cities and Woolworths was generally below the market average price in most cities.
“Average prices at Coles Express were the highest in all five cities, and average prices at retail sites where BP and Caltex head office sets the retail price were generally above the market average price.”
The price difference for E10 ethanol derived fuels was much more marked in Sydney.
The report also found that the gap between the most expensive and cheapest retailers has increased significantly in the last decade.
In 2007, the average price range across Australia’s five major cities was only 2.4 cents per litre, which nearly tripled to 6.3 cents per litre in 2017. The greatest price range was found in Sydney, of up to 9.5 cents a litre while the lowest was Melbourne at 3.6 cents per litre.
The average national metropolitan price as of Sunday 13th May was $1.48 a litre.
Across Melbourne’s 864 retailer petrol sites, Coles Express was the highest above the 2017 market average of 128.8 cents per litre, of around 2.4 cents, followed by BP.
United and 7-Eleven were the cheapest in Melbourne at around 1 cents per litre lower than market averages.
The major retailers’ monthly average prices in Melbourne over the last 12 months were more stable, differing only around four cents per litre over the year.
In Sydney, Coles Express was also above market average at around 4 cents per litre, followed by BP and then Caltex.
Speedway was the cheapest in Sydney at nearly 6 cents below the average price, followed by Metro petrol stations.
While the major retailers have had relatively stable prices in Sydney over the last 12 months, Coles Express saw the largest month-to-month increase, jumping five cents in a single period.
The ACCC report comes as the oil industry sees a massive price spike on the back of US President Donald Trump’s announcement it was placing oil sanctions on Iran, potentially removing up to a million barrels a day of oil and shrinking global inventories.