Edward Boyd & Keely McDonough, 13 January 2016

SYDNEY motorists are paying steep prices at the bowser despite market rate for refined petrol hitting a seven-year low last week.

The average retail price of unleaded last week rose 15c a litre to 122.9c, the steepest increase in petrol prices in nine weeks.

This is despite the benchmark Singapore Mogas 95 ­refined fuel price hitting the seven-year low of $US51.03 a barrel last Thursday before lifting on Friday to $US53.05.

The effect of the fall has been limited because of a falling Australian dollar — it’s now about US70c — meaning fuel retailers are forced to pay more for the same amount of petrol.

“Mogas 95 is the benchmark price for Australia,” NRMA spokesman Peter Khoury said. “While Mogas is falling, unfortunately the dollar has fallen 4c against the greenback, and so that means we probably won’t see the full passing on of the fall (to motorists).”

Australian Institute of Petroleum figures show fuel ­retailers are buying petrol for 106.7c per litre.

They then throttle motorists with 17c in fees to inflate the average price of Sydney unleaded petrol to 124c.

Mr Khoury said Sydney hit the high point of the petrol cycle earlier this week, with prices expected to fall over the next two weeks.

“We think the next low point will probably be in about two weeks’ time when we get to an average of around 107c (per litre),” he said.

CommSec chief economist Craig James said petrol retailers were taking advantage of motorist complacency.

“The relatively low petrol price has probably led to a bit of complacency for some ­motorists, causing them to do less comparison shopping and thus allowing gross retail margins of petrol marketing groups to drift higher,” he said.

The NRMA recommends shopping around to find good prices on petrol, with several websites and phone apps offering daily price updates.

Mr Khoury said independent petrol retailers were a good place to look for cheap fuel, with Metro Petroleum Doonside selling unleaded at 101.9c per litre yesterday.

At the other end of the scale a BP in Edgecliff was selling unleaded at 149.9c.

“It’s outrageous. I live right around the corner and it’s the only one nearby,” Darling Point resident Robyn Beaumont said.

Mr James said that while the Aussie dollar has softened, petrol prices aren’t that far away from the levels at the start of 2009

Extracted in full from the Daily Telegraph.