Brisbane is the most expensive capital city for petrol in a record-setting 2023, although motorists nationally can expect further relief at the bowser in early January.

NRMA analysis of 2023 petrol prices, provided to The Australian, shows Brisbane took out the title of the worst capital with an average price of 193.4c a litre for regular unleaded.

Perth recorded the lowest average of 183.9c thanks to its weekly price cycle, while Adelaide’s large concentration of independent service stations made it the second cheapest at 186c.

NRMA spokesman Peter Khoury said the analysis of petrol prices over seven years showed Perth had been the cheapest capital city twice and Adelaide four times, while each came in second cheapest twice.

“What we were shocked by with this data is that you would assume that Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane being the largest markets, you would expect that they would be the ones delivering the lowest averages,” he said.

“But it’s clear from this data that not only are they not, Brisbane is the worst out of all the capital cities – and that includes Canberra, Hobart and Darwin, where there are no price cycles.”

For 2023, Darwin was the third cheapest city for regular unleaded with an average price of 187.5c a litre.

The nation’s biggest market, Sydney, was the fourth cheapest capital with an average of 190.7c.

Hobart came in fifth cheapest with an average of 191.5c, ahead of Melbourne on 191.9c and Canberra’s 192.7c.

Mr Khoury said Australia’s exposure to the volatility of world oil prices was “painfully apparent” in 2023, with record petrol prices adding to high inflation.

“Fuel prices – and in particular diesel – have had a negative impact on the budgets of Australian families and our nation’s economy throughout much of 2023 and only now are we starting to see some relief,” he said.

Mr Khoury said average petrol prices in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth – the capital cities with price cycles – all broke records in September. He added that 2022 prices benefited from the six-month halving of the fuel excise.

“This year, without that cut in the excise, we broke the record for the most expensive unleaded prices across the country.”

Petrol prices have eased since September alongside a steep decline in oil prices, and Mr Khoury said the relief at the petrol pump should continue in the short-term, at least into January.

“The wholesale price right now is well below $1.70 and the averages in the capital cities with price cycles clearly haven’t fallen enough.”

Sydney prices fell over the Christmas period to be just under $2 a litre, still well above the wholesale price of $1.67.

Mr Khoury said Sydney prices should continue to fall in the first few weeks of January as they hit the bottom of the current cycle.

“Melbourne and Brisbane are going to be falling, and those other capital cities without price cycles and the rest of the country should continue to slowly fall in line with wholesale price movements. So in the first few weeks of 2024 we expected sustained relief.”

Mr Khoury said the NRMA analysis showed motorists were better off where there were many independent service stations competing on price, as in Adelaide, and where there were shorter price cycles like in Perth.

“What we do know from this analysis that we’ve done is the shorter the cycle, the better for motorists.

“Also the concentration of a number of players in a local area is going to lead to cheaper prices because competition is just that important, and Adelaide being second or first over the last four or five years in terms of the cheapest cities is the best evidence of that.”

But global factors, the top being oil prices, ultimately determined what motorists paid at the bowser, he said.

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