11 November 2015

SUNSHINE Coast motorists are enjoying a record run of cheap fuel prices which analysts say defies explanation.

But, like death and taxes, they warn it is inevitable the low-cost fuel will disappear.

And it could happen overnight.

The average cost of unleaded petrol across the Coast fell to just 115.9c/litre yesterday – the cheapest in a price cycle that has experts shaking their heads.

Prices have been steadily falling since late September, when they sat at 142.2c/litre.

RACQ spokeswoman Renee Smith said it was the sixth week of a cycle which should have finished much sooner.

Unleaded petrol at most outlets was now selling below the wholesale price.

“We had expected prices to go back up by now but we are still seeing incredibly cheap prices across south-east Queensland,” Ms Smith said.

“The petrol price cycle on the Sunshine Coast is just acting bizarrely at the moment.

“Service stations aren’t making any money and they can’t sustain that, so it won’t last forever.”

The exact reason for the low prices was unclear and Ms Smith said the big players had already twice tried unsuccessfully to push the price up at the bowser.

“What usually happens with a price hike is that one goes and then they all go.

“So overnight we can see an increase of 20c/litre, which is quite a shock to motorists.

“People go home in the afternoon and see cheap fuel but it’s gone when they go to fill up in the morning.

“But in the past few weeks some service stations have gone up and the rest haven’t followed, so they’ve been forced to come back down.”

The handful of independent service stations remaining on the Coast are as much at the mercy of price fluctuations as motorists.

Customers were taking advantage of cheap prices at Rainbow Fuel, Caloundra, yesterday and manager Ryan Hidassy said he had no idea when the ride would end.

He was selling unleaded for 113.9c/litre and making “bugger all” while prices remained low.

“I can’t give you a reason,” he said.

“The big guys dictate it and, as independents, we try to keep it a bit cheaper and try to be the last to go up.

“It definitely will go back up and I expect it will go up 20c/litre.”

He admitted he thought the price would jump last Monday and was now reasonably confident it would now remain stable for a few more days.

“Historically, if it doesn’t go up first thing in the week, it’s usually the end of week or the following Monday.

“It tends to stay fairly stable midweek.”

The RACQ also has no crystal ball on fuel prices and Ms Smith said smart motorists would fill their tanks and keep topping up.

“We don’t usually see the cycles going for this long, which is why we are warning that prices could go up at any time,” she said.

“The next attempt to jack up prices by the servos could stick.

“We don’t know what the future holds but we expect prices will go up at any time.

“I really would encourage motorists to fill up now, while prices are so low.

“Things can change overnight.

“We are keeping a close eye on things and there are no indications yet of that happening but could happen at any time.

“The good times won’t last forever.”

Extracted in full from the Sunshine Coast Daily.