THE NRMA has blasted petrol companies over fuel price differences across the Hunter, revealing there are “unusual” discrepancies in what motorists are paying.
It comes just a month after the single biggest leap in the price of unleaded petrol in two years, as prices shot up by 9.1 cents across the state in just one week.
While prices in the Hunter were more consistent with what Sydneysiders were paying on Friday, and overall cheaper than the state average, NRMA president Kyle Loades said the motorists’ lobby continued to monitor for price gouging.
Mr Loades said on Thursday the cheapest service station in Newcastle was selling unleaded petrol for 115.0 cents per litre, while the most expensive was 149.9 cents were litre.
“That’s quite a big gap,” he said.
“And it is unusual to have a gap of more than 35 cents, which is why motorists really do need to shop around for the cheapest fuel.”
According to Fuel Check, the state government website launched late last year to show motorists real time prices, the cheapest petrol was at Metro Fuel in Shortland at 115.9 cents per litre.
The most expensive was at Coles Express at Kooragang for 142.9, while BP Mayfield West and Caltex at Sandgate were both selling fuel for 139.9.
Prices varied between 119.9 and 128.9 in the Coalfields, while down the road in Cessnock it ballooned to a maximum of 142.9.
Maitland ranged between 137.9 and 144.9, while it ranged from 117.9 to a maximum of 136.9 in Port Stephens.
Mr Loades said there tended to be downward pressure on prices when there was a successful independent operator in the area.
“The wholesale price of fuel is 119.3, so what we’re seeing is some operators are selling below the market price, while others are selling far over it,” he said.
Yeash Sandhu, the owner-operator of Metro Petroleum Shortland, said it was a strategy of his company to undercut the major fuel chains, and claimed it was paying strong dividends.
“Our customers don’t mind travelling a bit further for the cheap fuel,” he said.
Elermore Vale’s Margaret Bull, who was filling up at Metro service station on Friday afternoon, said she had noticed a discrepancy in prices across the Hunter, noting that it “made all the difference” when fuel was cheap.
“It was a $1.39 at Wallsend, but there’s a difference of 20 cents here,” she said. “So that’s more money in my pocket. I really rely on my car, you can’t live without it.”
Another motorist, who was a pensioner, said big fuel operators had too much market power.
“They’ve got us by the short and curlies,” he said.