CONSUMERS buying fuel in Mount Gambier may be getting a good deal, but those in more regional towns are paying up to 15 cents more per litre.

The trial of South Australia’s Fuel Pricing Information Scheme, which requires fuel retailers to advise the State Government within 30 minutes of changing their prices, has highlighted the differences in pricing around the Limestone Coast.

Apps and websites, such as those hosted by the RAA, MotorMouth and Fuel Price Australia, use the data provided to the government to pass on real time pricing updates to consumers.

Mark Borlace, senior manager of mobility and automotive policy at the RAA, said their studies have shown consumers can save up to $28 per month by checking prices.

“Mount Gambier is well worth shopping around because you can have a 10-cent gap in the market there,” he said.

“It has been a competitive region in South Australia, today [Tuesday] they are lower than the prices in Adelaide.”

While Mount Gambier prices remain competitive, this is not the case for many other towns in the Limestone Coast.

On Tuesday, the cheapest prices for unleaded 91 in Millicent, Penola, Naracoorte, Kingston and Bordertown were all at least 9 cents more expensive than Mount Gambier’s cheapest option.

“If you have only got one or two servos [service station] in a town it is unlikely to see a lot of competition,” Mr Borlace said.

“We need to stimulate that competition in country towns so they can see some of the other advantages in pricing other regions are seeing.”

The Border Watch, in December, reported on a potential fuel war starting in Millicent after submissions by Perrys and OTR were lodged to build new service stations.

Last month the Wattle Range Council received a development application to redevelop the 24 hour Ampol service station at ‘Billy Goat Corner’ in Millicent.

The service station is owned by K&S Fuels and is the only staffed service station in the town.

The redevelopment involves demolishing the current building and replacing it with a new food and fuel retail outlet.

At this week’s Wattle Range Council meeting, elected members were advised that the currently closed Adelaide Road service station in Millicent had been sold by council to K&S Fuels.

It is understood that the Adelaide Road service station will be re-opened in April to coincide with the demolition of the Billy Goat corner site.

All currently operational service stations in Millicent are branded Ampol.

A new facility in the town could result in more competitive pricing.

Mr Borlace said that fuel prices are mostly determined by international factors, but local differences are usually retail based decisions.

“There are only two things that affect fuel prices, the cost of crude oil and the strength of the Australian dollar, that floats up and down slowly,” he said.

“The rapid movements we see in price is nothing to do with the real price of fuel, it is about marketers starting a price cycle to interrupt people’s buying behaviours.

“We do understand that regional fuel might cost a bit more because you do have additional transport costs, and the industry will argue they do not have the same volume to pay off the cost of running these service stations.

“Those transport issues should not account for Mount Gambier to Naracoorte difference because they are almost identical.”

Mr Borlace said it is up to consumers to use the power of choice to help improve prices.

“If they change their behaviour and use the apps to find the cheapest fuel the industry will notice,” he said.

“We need the consumers to be the catalyst to start that competition.

“If people stay in their old habits and do not shop around the industry will never change.”

Extracted in full from: Fuel competition heating up – The Border Watch