Denice Barnes, 12 January 2016
Woy Woy Peninsula residents fed up with paying up to 30 cents a litre more for petrol than many other motorists on the Central Coast are threatening to boycott their local service stations.
A Facebook page called Fair Fuel Prices for the Peninsula attracted almost 1000 likes in a few days and reached 2000 people in 24 hours.
Just two days after the page was established on January 3, Shell Woy Woy, BP Woy Woy, Caltex Umina and Shell Umina all dropped their prices by 10 cents a litre to 120.9, after hovering around 130.9 for the entire Christmas and New Year holiday period.
Fair Fuel Prices for the Peninsula administrator Lee-Anne Curby said she was not surprised the fuel price drop coincided with the social media attention.
“We have contacted all the service stations and emailed the companies and they all say the price difference is because of the cost of transportation, the lack of competition and the volume of fuel sold,” Ms Curby said.
She said she didn’t buy any of those excuses.
“If they dropped the price, they would sell more fuel meaning bigger volumes.”
Despite the 10 cent drop, Ms Curby said the Facebook group would continue to pressure the major service stations on the peninsula and on Monday a group protested outside the Shell at Woy Woy.
“We are not going away,” Ms Curby said.
Dean Mason, of Woy Woy, said he was sick of peninsula residents being “treated as cash cows”.
“We’re battlers,” he said.
“Why is fuel 103 at Wyong and 130 here?”
Ian Black, of Umina, said he had not bought fuel on the peninsula for 12 months.
“With a 25 per cent surcharge, I can’t support our local businesses,” he said.
Peter Russell said he believed the fuel companies did collude and set the price.
“They can say they don’t but the price tells you they do,” he said.
Ms Curby’s husband Fred Curby came up with the idea of starting a Facebook protest.
“We run a pet sitting business and drive all around the Coast and I wanted to know why fuel was 103 in Wyong compared with 130 here,” Mr Curby said. “This has gone on for too long.”
Ms Curby said the protest was not a “vendetta” against one service station.
“There are five service stations in this area and they have never had a cheap fuel day,” she said.
Ms Curby urged peninsula motorists to fill up elsewhere including Liberty at Empire Bay or the Caltex at West Gosford, because both were always cheaper than the peninsula service stations.
Another protest is planned for Saturday, January 23, at 10.30am at the Caltex at Umina.
The four major service stations on the peninsula declined to comment.
On January 3 when the Facebook page Fair Fuel Prices for the Peninsula was launched people submitted photos of service station price boards.
On that day fuel was 130.2 at the Shell Woy Woy and Caltex Blackwall and 130.9 at the BP at Woy Woy.
On the same day fuel was 114.7 at the Caltex on Manns Rd, West Gosford, and the 7-Eleven at Erina, and 104.9 at the Caltez at Tuggerah.
Cost of E10 on Monday
Chittaway Bay: 104.9
The Entrance/Forresters Beach/Killarney Vale: 121.9
Long Jetty: 118.9
West Gosford: 112.9
Empire Bay: 113.7
Woy Woy/Umina: 120.9
Competition drives cost
THE boss of the peak fuel retailers body Mark McKenzie said there was little difference in the cost of providing fuel at Woy and Tuggerah and any variance was due to the intensity of competition and how much fuel was sold.
Mr McKenzie, from the Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association, said competition was the driving force behind fuel prices and the greater the intensity of competition, the more competitive the price.
He said the cost of haulage and the wholesale price would be the same in both Woy Woy and Tuggerah, but higher volumes of fuel sold mean lower prices.
“This is often why the prices charged on busy roads with lots of service stations are frequently lower than those in quieter outer suburban areas,” he said.
He said competition along Tuggerah Straight and Wyong was “fierce” compared with competition on the peninsula which was a “no-through traffic” area.
“The volumes are lower so they charge higher prices,” he said.
“At Tuggerah where there is more competition, they lower their prices to get motorists into the driveway.”
He said the three types of retailers in the retail fuel industry — company owned and operated (34 per cent), commission agents (15 per cent) and independently owned operating under franchise agreements with a fuel major or an independent brand (15 per cent) — charged different annual margins which varied between 3 cents a litre to 25 cents a litre.
“It is also worth noting that the fuel industry has undergone a massive restructure in recent years to the point that oil companies to not own the majority of service stations, a change that few people seem to appreciate,” Mr McKenzie said.
Extracted in full from the Daily Telegraph.