A Lismore App reader has asked why Lismore petrol prices are so high when other Northern Rivers and NSW cities and towns are 15 cents or more a litre cheaper.
Comments on our Facebook page told stories of people paying $1.60 in Queensland, $1.68 at Southport, Sydney $1.90 for diesel, $1.70 for premium 98 near Toowoomba, $1.75 for E10 at Coffs Harbour.
These are prices listed by Fuel Check as at 6:30pm Thursday, January 4:
Unleaded 91: 199.9
Premium 95: 207.9
Premium 98: 215.9
Interestingly, the majority of petrol pricing is exactly the same at every service station, e.g. E10, Unleaded 91 and Premium 95. Prices have dropped by a consistent 5 cents a litre across the board for all types of fuel since last week. E10 which was 202.9 is now 197.9 as an example.
In terms of payment, a 20-cent difference on a 60-litre tank is $12.
Reader Ian said, “Come on guys, stop insulting our intelligence and doing us financial harm, it doesn’t cost 27c extra to get fuel to Lismore.
So, how much does it cost to get fuel to Lismore?
Ian McDonald is a local resident who has a long association in the fuel industry in NSW, Queensland and Victoria as a wholesaler, retailer and reseller with BP. Ian has been around the industry all his life as his father was selling petroleum products in 1921.
“There are a lot of factors arriving at the price of the pump so to speak,” Graham said.
The Australian Institute of Petroleum has a wholesale price of fuel of 164.9 cents a litre (yesterday’s price) which includes the refiner margin of 7 to 8 cents per litre, gst of 10% and the federal government’s excise of 48.8 cents per litre. The federal government excise and the gst make up approximately 30-40% of the price of fuel at the full excise rate of 48.8 cents a litre.
Transportation does affect the price we pay but not to the extent we think.
“Petrol deliveries are generally done in a B-Double with 5 compartments in a barrel and 3 compartments in a trailer which equates to 60,000 litres of fuel. The cost of transporting fuel from Brisbane to the Northern Rivers is about 1.5 to 2 cents a litre,” Ian explained, “Approximately $1,200.”
“Delivery costs are not critical for the local price.”
Ian said the average margin in the fuel industry is 3 to 3.5 cents a litre.
So, the petrol pump price could be reasonably assessed at 170.4 cents a litre which is reflected in Queensland prices and closer to some other regional cities and towns.
The ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) say an owner’s margin is ultimately determined by the level of competition in the marketplace.
Can that explain Lismore’s high prices?
The majority of Lismore petrol stations are now open following the flood except for the old United on Ballina Road which looks to be changing name.
Will the opening of the new 7-Eleven on the Bruxner Highway in South Lismore provide more competition and therefore lower prices in Lismore?
Ian doesn’t mince his words in his summary of local petrol prices.
“It is clear to me on the price differential between areas (22c a litre for E10) that this is a classic case of price gauging. It is bloody unfair to the people of Lismore.”
When Ian was selling fuel he was selling between 40,000 and 60,000 litres per week. If those margins were to stay constant, that is an extra profit of $457,600 to $686,400 per year per petrol station.
It is clear that the residents of Lismore could be charged a lot less than they are.