AUSTRALIAN motorists have been stung with the biggest annual growth in unleaded petrol prices in almost a decade.

Visits to the bowser are draining about $240 a month on average from household budgets, according to CommSec analysts. That’s about $50 a month more than a year ago.

The extra outlay has prompted concerns about consumers restricting spending in other areas.

And experts warn that there could be even more pain on the way, with global crude oil prices again surging to a 3 ½ year high last week

CommSec senior economist Ryan Felsman said that in the 12 months to July 1, the nation’s average weekly unleaded price had jumped by 24.8 per cent.

“That’s the strongest growth rate in 9 ½ years,” Mr Felsman said.

The national weekly unleaded average was 149.8c a litre over the past week, according to Australian Institute of Petroleum data.

That’s compared to $1.20 a litre the same time a year ago.

Mr Felsman said a 15c-a-litre gross retail margin (retail minus wholesale price) was at a five-month high.

Melbourne’s average unleaded price peaked at $1.58 a litre just over a week ago, and has been falling gradually as part of the up-and-down capital city discounting cycle.

Metropolitan prices yesterday averaged 148.7c a litre.

Mr Felsman said the timing of the petrol cycle was giving some relief to families on school holiday road trips.

But he warned that Melbourne prices were likely to peak again at the $1.58-$1.60 a litre mark in about a fortnight.

“What it generally means is that people will look to cut back on other things. It is another additional cost of living pressure at a time when there is slow wages growth.”

Although OPEC and Russia had recently agreed to boost oil production, that deal already appeared in jeopardy due to tensions between the United States and Iran.

Supply disruptions in Canada, Angola and Venezuela were also keeping prices up.

“We have a supply deficit at the moment that has lifted petrol prices globally.”

Australian petrol prices are linked to a key Singapore gasoline price, which rose 4.4 per cent last week.

Extracted from Herald Sun