Kieran Banks, 03 April 2016

IT’S a bizarre situation that only the fuel companies can explain.

In the space of nine months, Darwin petrol prices went from the most expensive in the country — to the least expensive — than back to the dearest.

But questions put to Puma Energy, which controls the Top End’s fuel distribution business and a majority of the service station sites, went unanswered this week. AANT chief executive officer Byron Henderson said petrol companies passed on savings to consumers during the June and July period last year.

But since, the margin between the terminal gate price and the bowser — effectively how much profit fuel distributors and retailers make — has crept back up.
Mr Henderson said petrol companies should resist the temptation of letting that margin blow out.

He said Darwin motorists don’t have the respite of a 14-day petrol price cycle in other capital cities.

“The biggest thing for petrol prices in Darwin is the competition. We encourage people to shop around and look for the lowest price. The more volume we drive to the cheaper operators the more the market reacts,” Mr Henderson said.

“We’d love to see the margins being maintained. The average terminal gate price is $1.07 a litre and it’s selling at a seven cent margin. The difference between Darwin and the bigger cities is around volume and what you see is pretty big price swings. In Darwin we see very consistent prices.

“Moving into the December quarter we saw oil prices come down and wholesale prices come down, particularly with diesel. But there wasn’t an immediate pass on to motorists. We put a lot of pressure on servos through January and February. The other thing to note is the price of petrol is the lowest its been since 2004.” Yesterday the average price for fuel in Darwin was 115.5c/l, compared with 103.2c/l in Sydney.

In Adelaide, the price for a litre of unleaded fuel was 104.3c/l, while Brisbane reached 110.8c/l. averages show that other markets fluctuate around a 14-day cycle, where prices creep up over a fortnight before dropping.

Extracted in full from the NT News.