Canberrans have enjoyed one of the biggest drops in petrol prices in the country, but a new Australian Competition and Consumer Commission report finds they are still paying more than in all but one other capital city.

The commission’s second quarterly petrol prices report found the ACT was the second-most expensive capital city at the petrol bowser, despite Canberra’s fuel dropping by almost 10c a litre from an average 143.1c in the December quarter to 133.2c in the three months to March.

But some drivers were paying up to 33.5c less in January than in March as the capital’s fuel wars heated up and Costco dropped its petrol prices to less than a $1 a litre.

The latest figures from the Australian Institute of Petroleum said Canberra prices remained steady last week, at 133.4c a litre, 2c above the national metropolitan average.


Overall, Canberrans were paying an extra 3c a litre than the average cost of petrol in the country’s five largest cities – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth – at 130.3c. Filling up in Sydney was more than 2c cheaper a litre at 130.8c. The only city to pip Canberra was Darwin at 133.9c a litre.

This is despite Canberrans paying 9.9c less for fuel than in December last year, the second largest fall behind Darwin at 14.7c. Prices went up in all other capital cities except Hobart, including a 10.1c rise in Sydney.

The results are better than those revealed in the first quarterly report, where the average price gap between Canberra and the five largest Australian cities ballooned from 5.5c in July to 17c a litre in January.

A short-lived reprieve at the beginning of February saw the average cost of unleaded petrol in Canberra fall to an average of 115c a litre, at a time when Costco members were paying just 103.7c.

This city-country gap has narrowed across the board since February, according to the latest report.

“Regional prices were slower to fall in line with international price movements, compared with prices in the larger cities. They were also slower to rise in the March quarter,” commission chairman Rod Sims said.

Monthly average petrol prices fell in 94 per cent of the regional locations monitored by the commission between December and March, including Canberra.

A 15-year low in petrol prices across the five largest cities was shortlived as a result of large falls in international crude oil prices reversing this year.

“Crude oil prices in February and March 2015 rebounded, influenced by increased political tensions in the Middle East and improved market sentiment due to a reduction in the number of active oil rigs in the US,” Mr Sims said.

A 19 per cent increase in Brent crude oil prices from mid-January to the end of March; larger increases in international refined petrol prices – including a 35 per cent jump by Singapore Mogas 95 Unleaded, the benchmark used to set retail prices in Australia; and a weaker Australian dollar have contributed to the rising costs in fuel across most Australian capital cities.

Extracted in full from the Canberra Times.