Petrol companies failed to pass on price cuts when the international oil price dropped last month.
Petrol companies failed to pass on price cuts when the international oil price dropped last month. David Nielsen

Motorists lose as petrol companies keep higher margins

PETROL companies have been accused of ripping off motorists by failing to pass on the full benefit of international oil price cuts.

In a move likened to banks withholding interest rate cuts from mortgage customers, petrol retailers kept profits high for long periods as wholesale prices dipped this year.

RACQ's Joe Fitzgerald said total fuel margins on unleaded petrol blew out to almost 20 cents per litre in October - the highest since Queenslanders swapped their horse and buggy for an automobile.

"ULP margins reached record levels last month, as everyone but motorists reaped the benefit of falling oil prices," Mr Fitzgerald said.

"All too often, we've seen retailers getting fat on fuel margins, but now wholesalers and refineries are cutting themselves a hefty slice of the pie.

"Going right back to when we had to feed and water our transport, fuel margins have never been so high."

Meanwhile, motorists are being warned to fill up quickly if they see low prices, as higher costs are likely at the pump in coming days and weeks.

Australian Institute of Petroleum figures show earlier this month, and in June, wholesale prices dived on the back of lower international oil prices.

During those periods, margins on Australian bowser sales stayed well above the past two years' average of under 9c a litre.

In the past month, the difference between wholesale and retail prices hovered between 12c and 15c a litre. In June, it was up to 18c a litre.

Australian Automobile Association executive director Andrew McKellar said overseas price movement benefits were not flowing to motorists.

The average price of petrol in Gladstone last month was 150.4 cents per litre.

This compared to an average price of 152.9 in Rockhampton and 147.6 in Bundaberg.

Across Queensland there were modest increases in the price of ULP during October, and most regional centres were more expensive than Brisbane.

Warwick was the cheapest place to buy ULP in Queensland during October.

Warwick's ULP averaged 147.3, which was 0.8 cents per litre cheaper than Brisbane.

The Sunshine Coast, Bundaberg, Toowoomba and Kingaroy were also cheaper than Brisbane.

Ipswich was the cheapest place to buy diesel. At an average of 149.9, diesel was 1.8 cents per litre cheaper than Brisbane.

Diesel in Whitsunday, Townsville, Ayr, Bowen, Mackay, Dalby and Ingham was also cheaper than Brisbane.



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