Experts say petrol retailers have been slow to pass on savings to customers in the Pilbara.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has released its latest petrol monitoring report.

Petrol prices at Australian pumps plummeted in April, with capital cities enjoying an average price of 102.6 cents per litre.

In comparison, the average price for petrol in the Pilbara in April was 144.6 cents per litre, according to FuelWatch.

Early today, the best average price for unleaded petrol in the Pilbara was $1.20 a litre, according to Fuelwatch, and $1.06 in Perth.

ACCC Chair Rod Sims said high petrol prices hit regional motorists hard.

“It’s due, I think, to just the lack of competition. There’s just not many service stations in these places,” he said.

‘Black gold’ demand dropped

This year global oil prices plummeted due in part to COVID-19.

At the end of April oil prices dropped to $US21.17 a barrel. These prices have since recovered with the oil price sitting at just over $US 40 a barrel.

RAC Manager of Vehicles and Fuels Alex Forrest said when oil prices did drop, fuel retailers should immediately pass on these lower prices to its customers in remote areas like the Pilbara.

“Throughout COVID-19 travel restrictions, we saw international oil prices drop significantly, and it was during this time that regional fuel retailers were keeping most of these savings to themselves,” he said.

Mr Forrest said, in recent weeks, the wholesale price of oil had bounced back, and profit margins were narrower for regional fuel retailers.

ustomers urged to shop around

Mr Sims said the Pilbara’s petrol prices were 5 cents or 10 cents higher than they should be.

He said fuel turnover and a lack of competition were factors in the above-average prices.

“There’s no price control on petrol in Australia just like there’s no price control on fridges or apples or anything like that,” he said.

“Petrol prices are set by the market.

“The ACCC’s role is to monitor petrol prices, occasionally call out bad behaviour, and give consumers advice on petrol.”

Mr Forrest said fuel prices continued to put pressure on household budgets.

He said the best thing consumers could do was to shop around to encourage competition.

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