Blatant price-gouging has been blamed for motorists being slugged by as much as 40 cents per litre more at petrol stations within the same suburb.
And motorists are being urged to fill up their vehicles before prices rise at more outlets in the coming days.
The Herald Sun can reveal examples of service stations within as little as 500m of each other slugging drivers huge differences when they fill up at the bowser.
At noon on Thursday, Coles Express on Punt Rd in Richmond was charging $174.9c a litre, compared to the BP in nearby Swan St at $134.9c/l.
At 9am, motorists on Melbourne’s south side were being charged $174.9c/l at the Coles Express in Gardenvale, but just a few blocks up at the BP in Brighton East, customers were paying just $138.9c/l.
For a motorist with a 50-litre tank, paying an extra 40c/l would cost them another $20 if they filled up at the more expensive petrol station.
Industry price monitoring service Fueltrac’s general manager Geoff Trotter said despite a recent fall in wholesale fuel costs, customers were being unfairly hit.
“It’s going nothing to do with the underlying wholesale price,” he said.
“One of the key oil companies in Melbourne is Shell Coles Express outlets, whose prices are controlled by Viva Energy, which sets the price marker.
“They jack up their prices and everyone else follows to take advantage of the extraordinarily high profit.”
But a Viva Energy spokesman said it had been working to offer competitive fuel prices across their 710 locations nationally.
Despite petrol prices soaring in recent days, the wholesale price for a barrel of unleaded fuel fell from $115 last week to $111 on Wednesday, figures from the Australian Institute of Petroleum showed.
A weak Aussie dollar has sent petrol prices soaring but there is a way you can still save big at the pump.
Mr Trotter said the wholesale price for fuel on Thursday was $1.35c/l delivered to stations, so they “could make 40 cents a litre gross profit”.
NRMA spokesman Peter Khoury said nationally there were some stations charging “up to 50 cents more per litre in the same street in the capital cities.”
An Australian Competition and Consumer Commission spokeswoman said fluctuating prices irritated motorists.
“There’s a common perception that all retailers put their prices up or down at exactly the same time, but our research shows this isn’t the case,” he said.
“So if you see prices going up at one retailer, use a free petrol app to find another who hasn’t yet raised their price.”
The ACCC said there is usually a five to seven day lag between the first retailer raising prices to the last.
Popular free apps to help track petrol prices include Petrol Spy Australia and FuelMapAustralia.
Extracted from The Daily Telegraph