Petrol prices in Adelaide have jumped to $2.29 per litre, the highest levels in a year with pressures on the cost of oil not expected to ease for another two months.

The cost of unleaded fuel increased by about 40 cents per litre overnight at the bulk of Adelaide service stations.

Royal Automobile Association (RAA) spokesperson Mark Borlace said while the spike had come as a “slap in the face” to many drivers, average petrol prices were not likely to hit the same levels as other big cities.

“As horrible as our prices seem, the ACCC report last month said that we’re still on average [one of] the cheapest mainland capitals,” Mr Borlace told ABC Radio Adelaide.

“We are unlikely to see those sorts of spikes [that are happening in Sydney] soon, but the underlying pressure is probably going to sit there for another month or two.”

The report by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission found that Adelaide’s average retail petrol price during the June quarter was 180.2 cents per litre — the second lowest capital on Australia’s mainland, while Perth had the lowest average price with 178.3 cents per litre.

Pensioner Dawn Pitman, who filled up her car on Wednesday said trying to navigate when petrol prices would increase had become “bit of a problem”.

“They’ve got us over the barrel really, they [service stations] can do whatever they want to do really,” Ms Pitman said.

“Being on the pension, you’ve sort of got to budget for everything and I need my car to do whatever I need to do, so yes it does become a bit of a problem.”

A woman sitting in her car at a petrol service station.
Pensioner Dawn Pitman says knowing when to fill up is becoming a problem.(ABC News.)

Another local driver caught off-guard at the bowser, Alan Jones, said he believed that the change in fuel prices were “a bit dodgy” but admitted he was still glad to be refilling in Adelaide.

“We were in Sydney a couple of weeks ago and seeing the price over there and thought yeah wow, maybe it’s not so bad but it’s still hard,” Mr Jones said.

Feeling the pinch

While the prices themselves are expensive, the flow-on effects on personal finance — and daily life — that have experts concerned that more consumers will be forced to choose between bare necessities.

The SA Financial Counsellors Association’s executive officer Kate Fox said fuel was just one of the many cost-of-living pressures forcing those doing it most tough to make difficult decisions.

A woman smiling while sitting at a desk with a laptop.
Kate Fox says fuel prices are particularly affecting people on lower incomes.(ABC News: James Wakelin)

“Those on the lowest incomes are obviously going to feel the pinch the most – they’re also probably the group of people who can’t afford the newer cars that are more energy efficient or more fuel efficient,” Ms Fox said.

“We’ve heard stories of people who’ve had to get emergency assistance so that they can afford to pay their petrol so that they can afford to get to work which then means they can afford to pay their housing and not lose their accommodation.

“We’ve also heard stories of people who struggle to afford to pay the petrol to get their kids to school or if they can afford the petrol to get the kids to school, it can be difficult for them to pay for food to eat while they’re at school, so it really is a tight juggle for some families.”

Mr Borlace said that the spike in price has been driven by a range of international and domestic factors, which he said could last for another two months.

“OPEC [Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries] countries in the Middle East and Russia are starting to slow up supply to drive prices up,” he said.

“The second [factor] is all our oil contracts are in Australian-to-US dollars and we’ve got a weakening dollar.

“It’s probably close to the highest we’ve paid in a while and I don’t know if it will go that much higher but I don’t see them reducing for the next month or two.”

A 3D printed oil pump jack in front of the OPEC logo.
Mr Borlace says oil-producing-countries are slowing up oil supply.(Reuters: Dado Ruvic/File)

In March last year, the previous federal government halved the tax charged on each litre of fuel sold in Australia, dropping it from 44.2 to 22.1 cents.

The temporary discount ran for six months and ended in September last year.

Drivers urged to shop around

Mr Borlace said drivers could take several steps to try to ensure best value for money.

“People can still shop around though, because if you’ve got a fuel app that’s real-time fuel pricing,”

“There are still some out there at $1.89, just a handful of them, so if people jump on an app, find them, and fill up that will save you about $24 on a fill.”

A sign at a service station in Adelaide showing petrol prices.
The RAA says Adelaide is still one of the cheapest capitals in Australia to fill up.(ABC News: Lincoln Rothall.)

One driver, Bernie, told the ABC he had changed his habits to cut down on unnecessary fuel costs.

“You just tend to be a bit more cautious about [whether] I don’t need to go out,” he said.

“[You] do your shopping on one particular day.”

Mr Borlace recommended drivers across the state consider similar steps.

“Try and combine the trips if you can, so if you’re going to pick up the kids, try and do the groceries, pick up the dry cleaning or whatever all in the same loop,” he said.

“For those in the regions, it’s even better if they can do that because they on average travel more distance.”

Extracted in full from: Petrol prices spike across Adelaide — but it’s been one of the least expensive places to fill up – ABC News