Brisbane’s motorists were under the pump to find fuel below $1.70 a litre on Tuesday, as service stations across the city spruiked some of the most expensive petrol in the country.

Motor services group RACQ reported a swath of Brisbane stations selling unleaded fuel at nearly $1.80 litre amid rising US oil prices and claims by industry consultants that a “fake fuel cycle” is being perpetuated in the Queensland capital by major oil companies.

RACQ’s fuel tracker found 23 Brisbane service stations selling fuel at $1.779 a litre, including United, BP, Coles, Ampol, and 7-Eleven chains.

Fuel also peaked at this price at a couple of stations in Melbourne and Sydney, but RACV and NRMA data indicated the southern capitals were slightly lower on a citywide average.

RACQ spokeswoman Renee Smith said the average unleaded petrol price in Brisbane was nearing record highs at an average of $1.698 per litre, with more than 85 per cent of service stations charging $1.75 per litre or more.

A national average petrol price of $1.542 a litre last week is reportedly the highest in 20 months. NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled Credit: News Corp Australia

“The current high prices are largely caused by the petrol price cycle experienced across southeast Queensland and high oil prices,” Ms Smith said.

“Retail margins are also higher than what we’ve seen in previous years but aren’t dissimilar to the most recent fuel price cycles.”

She said motorists should avoid filling up the tank at this time unless they could find one of the few remaining sites selling fuel for $1.44 or less.

“Otherwise they should hold off filling up as we expect petrol prices in Brisbane to peak this week before gradually starting to fall,” she said.

Retail petrol prices in Australia have tracked the recent rise in global oil as disruptions from Hurricane Ida continue to wreak havoc in the Gulf of Mexico.

But Geoff Trotter, the director and co-founder of data and consulting firm FuelTrac, said a more than 30-cent-per-litre increase in a matter of days was the result of major brands dominating the Brisbane market.

“(It is) the oil companies’ fake fuel cycle in Brisbane, the control that companies like Shell, Ampol, Woolworths, 7-Eleven have over setting pump prices across their entire retail networks,” Mr Trotter said.

“There has been some underlying increase in the oil price but nothing that explains these cycle increases.”

Petrol Stations Stock
RACQ’s fuel tracker found 23 Brisbane service stations selling fuel at $1.779 a litre on Tuesday. NCA NewsWire / Emma Brasier Credit: News Corp Australia

Mr Trotter said once wholesale fuel prices, freight, and gross margins were factored in, a fair price for Brisbane motorists was around $151.50 a litre.

But he isn’t hopeful of any legislative pressure on companies to lower bowser prices – at least while the coronavirus dominates the national news discussion.

“There is no government or legislative cap on retail petrol prices and while the market is controlled by the majors and 7-Eleven – who can move prices to whatever level they deem appropriate – then we expect them to stay well above underlying wholesale prices,” Mr Trotter said.

Meanwhile, data from online price monitoring organisation MotorMouth showed Brisbane was the most expensive of the major capital cities on Monday, averaging $1.706 a litre for unleaded petrol, the highest price in a month.

By comparison, Melbourne’s daily average on Monday was $1.637 and Sydney $1.596.

An Australian Institute of Petroleum report showed last week’s average national price was $1.542 a litre – reportedly the highest in 20 months – even as coronavirus lockdowns empty the roads.

Queensland’s state average last week was slightly higher than the national figure at $1.543 a litre, while Brisbane was higher again at $156.1.

That was only behind Sydney, Canberra and Hobart of the major capitals

Average fuel prices on the Gold Coast and at Hervey Bay, Longreach, Mount Isa and Toowoomba were slightly pricier than Brisbane, while Weipa was most expensive fuel in the state last week at an average price of $1.869 per litre.

Extracted in full from: Brisbane petrol prices near $1.80 amid US oil surge and ‘fake fuel cycle’ | The West Australian