Many of South Australia’s regions have avoided the increase in extreme petrol price spikes seen in metropolitan Adelaide over the past year.

Motoring group RAA reports that a mid-sized SUV with a tank of about 70 litres is now costing regional South Australians $16.10 more on average than it did in January 2019.

This is less than metropolitan drivers who have experienced a $26 increase for the same amount of fuel.

In metropolitan Adelaide, a spike in prices has also increased from around 20c/l to 40c/l, meaning the cost of missing out on cheap prices has also soared.

The motoring group’s fuel expert Mark Borlace said that while the country is without severe price cycles, regional consumers do face other challenges.

“Now the problem with not having a price cycle is that on average you pay more for your fuel over the year,” he said.

“So when there are no price cycles, it is often a sign of a lack of real competition.

“The problem is that if it goes on for a while or a long time people in that region just get used to it, thinking, ‘I might as well just get it here because it will be only a couple of cents difference’.

“Complacency sets it and the oil companies don’t compete as hard so you pay on average a bit more.”

The RAA is pressing the state government to introduce real-time fuel pricing so motorists can fill up at the cheapest prices.

“Real-time pricing puts into place laws that say to the oil companies that, 15 minutes before they put the price up at any one site, they have to register the price,” Mr Borlace said.

“In the towns that maybe have more than 20,000 people and maybe more than seven or eight sites – we hope that it will stimulate some competition there if we get enough people to use their own market power to do it.

“It’s got to be better than what we have now which is a system where people cannot see it properly and complacency sets in.”

Real-time fuel pricing already exists in New South Wales, Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia and the regulatory watchdog ACCC has reported that in South Australians could save $30 million to $75 million at the bowser in a year.

In the past 12 months, the average price of fuel in regional SA has risen by more than 23 cents per litre.

“This is why the regions also need real-time fuel pricing,” Mr Borlace said.

“If people have that information at least they can start to be strategic in their buying.”

By Stuart Taverner

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