MOTORISTS have been warned to fill up quickly with some Brisbane service stations suddenly hiking petrol prices to nearly 30 cents a litre above the average.

The latest hit on hip pockets comes as new figures show Brisbane was again the most expensive major city for fuel in the country last month.

Prices at some Shell Coles Express outlets soared to 167.9 cents a litre for unleaded yesterday, prompting warnings that other chains will quickly follow them upwards.

The average price of unleaded in Brisbane yesterday was 139.2 cents a litre. The RACQ’s “fair fuel price” was 137.7 cents.

General manager of price monitoring service fuelTRAC, Geoff Trotter, slammed the price hike. “This is probably the most blatant example of Shell Coles Express trying to lead the Brisbane market up to 167.9 cents a litre,” he said.

That price was the highest for unleaded fuel for six months.

Based on the terminal gate price, or wholesale price, it delivered a 33c a litre margin to Viva Energy, which took control of Coles Express in February with a promise to compete against cheaper chains.

“It’s a new era all right. We’ve never seen prices go so high so quickly and with record margins,” Mr Trotter said.

RACQ spokeswoman Lucinda Ross said only a small number of service stations were selling at 167.9 cents so far.

“What we sometimes see is that a few try to set a price benchmark,” she said.

“That’s higher than we expected. It’s too early to tell if that’s where the new high will sit, but we would urge motorists not to delay filling up because prices are on the way up, and when they hike they can leap by 20 or 30 cents a litre.”

This marks the start of an expected period of higher prices reflecting the impact of rising global crude prices in response to US President Donald Trump’s sanctions on oil producers Iran and Venezuela as well as eight countries buying supplies from Iran.

Meanwhile, the latest RACQ analysis, to be released today shows the average unleaded fuel price of 147c a litre in Brisbane was higher than Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth in April.

Lower retail margins had taken the edge of price rises earlier this year, “however we now have fuel companies upping their margins to the detriment of motorists,’’ Ms Ross said.

She said a lack of competition added to the pain here.

“It’s frustrating Brisbane drivers continue to cough up more than those in the other capital cities. It was also even dearer here last month than it was in the smaller cities of Darwin and Canberra, where prices are generally less competitive,” Ms Ross said.

A Viva Energy spokeswoman could not be reached for comment.

Extracted from Herald Sun