THE staff of service stations cop the abuse while the oil giants and governments rake in the real cash, according to Townsville independent service station owner Soren Nannestad.

Mr Nannestad, who operates Shell Belgian Gardens, was commenting yesterday as fuel prices hit record highs.

The RACQ reported yesterday that unleaded petrol prices in regional centres, including Townsville, hit $1.60 a litre for the first time on the back of rising oil prices and the falling value of the Australian dollar against the US dollar.

But the RACQ also attacked “some servos” for charging excessive margins.

RACQ spokeswoman Lucinda Ross said Townsville drivers were being “slugged at the pump”.

“While the rising global oil price and softening Aussie dollar is largely to blame for these prices, some servos are charging above what we think is fair,” Ms Ross said.

“There is a 7c per litre difference between the cheapest and the most expensive fuel in Townsville so motorists need to let their purses do the talking.

“It might not seem like much of a saving but choosing the cheaper retailers will send a strong message to the others to compete for your business and can save your household hundreds of dollars over the year.”

Mr Nannestad said some service stations were cheaper depending on the volume they sold. The more volume, the lower the margin an operator could sustain.

He said terminal gate prices at Townsville had been hiked 4c in the past week.

“When the terminal gate price goes up I have to pass the cost on,” he said.

Mr Nannestad said he felt for customers and tried to keep prices as low as possible but costs such as insurance, council rates and electricity were also “sky-high”.

“I don’t blame people for getting angry but don’t blame the people working at the service station,” Mr Nannestad said.

“People think service stations must be making millions.

“We are not making millions. The Government and oil companies are.

“We are at the raw end. We cop the abuse.”

Townsville Port unleaded petrol terminal gate prices yesterday included Caltex: $1.52.34; BP: $1.53.01; and Viva Energy: $1.50.8.

The Australian Institute of Petroleum reported an average terminal gate price in Brisbane yesterday of $1.47.4.

Extracted from Daily Telegraph