Competition watchdog head Rod Sims has slammed fuel retailers for price-gouging Australians at the pump while global oil prices are crashing, telling Australians to “shun” profiteering businesses.

Global oil prices have collapsed over the last few weeks to an 18-year low due to the coronavirus crisis and an escalating production war between members of OPEC.

US crude futures plunged overnight to their lowest level since early 2002 while Brent crude, the global benchmark for oil prices, fell 14 per cent to end trading at $US24.67, its lower since 2003.

The average price of petrol at the pump of Australia is currently $1.294 per litre, according to the Australian Institute of Petroleum, a decline of 12 per cent on the average of $1.461 one month ago.

But some locations are selling petrol in excess of $1.50 a litre, to the annoyance of many Australians who now have to rely on private vehicles due to social distancing measures.

Mr Sims, head of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, told 2GB that it is important for Australians to call out “this appalling behaviour” and said that average prices should be “around $1.10, or less”.

“I know it sounds silly but really what we got to do…is completely shun the people who are overcharging us,” he said.

On Monday, Mr Sims said the ACCC did not have the power to fix prices or prosecute fuel retailers for charging higher than average prices, but it would name and shame retailers who charge above a fair price.

Australian petrol prices are primarily determined by international crude oil and refined petrol prices. Therefore, a sustained decrease in these prices should lead, everything else being equal, to lower petrol prices at the bowser,” Mr Sims said.

“We will be looking at the market very closely, to determine if further sustained reductions in international prices are being passed onto consumers, and we will be publicly identifying those retailers that are not passing on reductions.

“At this time the Australian economy needs all the assistance it can get, and lower world oil prices are one of the few positives from current world events.

“Hopefully, the recent break between Russia and OPEC marks the start of the waning influence of this dreadful cartel on international crude oil prices.”

Extracted from The Australian