The difference between city fuel prices and regional, remote areas has shrunk.
The difference between city fuel prices and regional, remote areas has shrunk. Anthony Reginato

Petrol price gap between cities and regions narrows

THE gap between the cost of petrol in capital cities and regional areas narrowed in the past six months, new data has revealed.

The cost of unleaded petrol rose about 31cents a litre from 109.2 in January to 140.6 in June in Australia's capital cities.

But in regional areas, that figure rose just 18.6 cents from 122.7 in January to 141.3 in June.

The latest competition commission petrol price monitoring report showed regional motorists were, on average, paying 0.7 cents more than city drivers.

That compares with a massive 17.5 cents more for unleaded petrol in December last year.

The report did not point to any single reason behind the closing of the gap in petrol prices between regional and capital markets,

However, it did say a rising international oil price may have caused the change, predicting a "likely increase" in the "differential" in prices between both markets once the global oil price stabilises.

The rising price nationally was driven by rising global prices and a weaker exchange rate, ACCC chief Rod Sims said, and regional petrol prices were slower to respond to changes in the global price than capital city markets.

"In the second half of 2014 regional prices were slower to fall following decreases in international refined petrol prices, compared with prices in the larger cities," Mr Sims said.

"They were also slower to rise in the March and June 2015 quarters," Mr Sims said.

The report showed the monthly average petrol prices were lower in 77 regional towns than in the five major capital cities.

But despite the rises across the board, the average retail petrol prices were still 16.5 cents or 16%, lower in 2014-15 than in 2013-14.

Mr Sims said despite some people believing the ACCC could set petrol prices, it was not the case, and the competition watchdog's role was only to monitor the market.

"The ACCC does not set wholesale or retail petrol prices in Australia, and it is not illegal to price above cost.

"Petrol prices are determined by the market."

The difference in the petrol price across regional towns varied by up to 20% in different places.



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