According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the December quarter 2016 had the highest quarterly average petrol prices since the June quarter 2015.
This coincided with unprecedented growth in popularity of fuel-price comparison apps and websites that motorists use to find the cheapest fuel in their area.
Prices in Australia’s five largest cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth increased by 7.8 cents per litre (cpl) to 122.0 cpl. Gross retail margins increased by 0.9 cpl to 11.3 cpl.
The increase in retail prices during the quarter was significantly influenced by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) announcing an agreement to limit crude-oil production in late November. OPEC announced another agreement in December with 11 non-OPEC countries to reduce production further.
ACCC Chairman Rod Sims says that in the higher price environment, it becomes more important to consumers to shop around for cheaper prices.
Data collected by ACCC shows that the use of petrol-pricing apps and websites increased from about four million ‘hits’ in the December quarter 2015 to about 21 million hits in the December quarter 2016.