Independent FuelXpress remains the cheapest place to buy unleaded petrol in Darwin as one major player denies collusion is behind the sudden jump in prices.

FuelXpress’s Coonawarra Rd site yesterday was selling unleaded at 128.5¢/l, which was 11.2¢/l cheaper than United’s Parap site at 139.7¢/l.

All other major fuel brands were selling unleaded at 139.9¢/l, including a number of other United stations.

United Petroleum’s chief operating officer David Szymczak rejected the suggestion of collusion, saying they could withstand any investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Treasurer Nicole Manison wrote to the ACCC last week, just days before the launch of the NT Government’s MyFuel website, asking them to investigate why there was double-digit disparity between the terminal gate price and the street price.

Petrol prices jumped 10¢/l at the end of last month coinciding with the closure of Platinum Fuel Taxi Base in Finniss St.

Mr Szymczak said there was no great mystery to the price movements.

“The market will move around a bit,” he said. “It has been low and then it resets and I am sure it will reset this time.

“The Government can say what they like and the ACCC can come and look as much as they like we do not collude and we reject it.”

The MyFuel NT initiative requires fuel retailers to report changes to their prices immediately. Consumers are then able to shop around, taking advantage of the cheapest prices.

Opposition Leader Gary Higgins said the reverse might occur.

“Publishing real-time fuel prices actually helps retailers to effectively fix prices by following the price signals from the larger companies,” he said.

“Because all retailers have an incentive to charge the highest possible price, they all follow the leader, resulting in dramatically higher prices at the pump for Territory drivers.”

The above-average number of fleet cards in the Territory and transport charges have also been identified as a contributor to higher prices.

An industry analyst said fleet cards might account for as much as 75 per cent of fuel purchases, leaving drivers with few options to influence price movements.

“We are an unusual case because of the fleet card situation,” he said. “We have high numbers of federal and NT public servants for starters.”

Extracted from: NT News