Servo owners have insisted they are not price-gouging despite making record profits on fuel.

Petrol prices in Australia have slumped since the COVID-19 pandemic began with the average cost of unleaded fuel dropping to 98.2 cents last week.

But retailers have been paying wholesale prices of little more than 80 cents a litre – the lowest in 20 years – and charging motorists an extra 24.6 cents.

Despite record-high profit margins, service station owners say they have been hit hard by lockdown measures rolled out to contain the deadly virus and are struggling to make ends meet.

Mr Karalis told the ABC he has been taking out high-interest bank loans to pay $100,000 per fortnight in wages until the federal government’s JobKeeper scheme comes through. 

Petrol price around Australia 

PERTH: 0.86 cents a litre

MELBOURNE: 0.89 cents a litre 

SYDNEY: 0.95 cents a litre 

BRISBANE: 1.0 cents a litre 

ADELAIDE: 1.01 cents a litre

CANBERRA: 1.01 cents a litre

DARWIN: 1.16 cents a litre 

HOBART: 1.22 cents a litre  

Source: FuelPrices Australia

Chief executive officer of the Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association Mark McKenzie told the publication that thousands of service station owners are in Mr Karalis’ position.

‘In recent weeks, we’ve actually seen service stations in areas like regional WA, regional NSW and regional SA that have reported falls of between 75 per cent and 80 per cent of their revenue, most of those are located in tourist areas.’ 

He explained the financial pressures have made it difficult for retailers to pass the low fuel prices on to dwindling numbers of consumers.

Mr McKenzie also pointed out that many retailers in regional and low fuel consumption areas won’t benefit from the reduced prices until the older and more expensive petrol in their tanks is sold.

But Geoff Trotter – the owner of petrol-price-monitoring company FuelTrac – told the ABC that prices above 99 cents per litre are unfair on the consumer.

‘I consider anything above 99 cents a litre over the top in terms of profit margin and anything below 99 cents would be a fair price for the oil company, for the dealer and certainly for the motorist.’

Mark McKenzie is the Chief executive officer of the Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association

Discounts and surges hit capital cities around the nation at different times, ensuring oil companies achieve higher profit margins consistently throughout the year.  

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, these price changes are not necessarily related to changes in wholesale prices. 

This phenomenon doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world. 

CommSec senior economist Ryan Felsman said fuel costs are still higher in some parts of Australia because price cycles and are still in place in spite of the pandemic.

‘Queenslanders that were making the most of an easing in COVID-19 restrictions over the Labour Day long weekend would’ve noticed that petrol prices in some suburbs and towns hit $1.20 a litre,’ Mr Felsman said.

He also said unleaded pump prices have also lifted to around $1.20 a litre in Sydney’s inner-west, eastern suburbs and north shore, signifying the end of the area’s discount cycle.

Extracted from Daily Mail