Retail fuel prices driven by international factors

International factors contributed to higher petrol prices in the September quarter, according to the ACCC’s latest quarterly petrol monitoring report.

This included higher international refined fuel prices driven by OPEC oil production cuts and stronger global oil demand, combined with a lower Australian/US dollar exchange rate.

Quarterly average retail petrol prices in Australia’s five largest cities, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, were 195.6 cents per litre (cpl), an increase of 12.7 cpl from the June quarter 2023 (182.9 cpl).

“Our report shows the significant impact that international price movements and changes in the Australian dollar against the US dollar have on Australian retail petrol prices,” says ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh.

The increase in average retail petrol prices in the five largest cities, according to the ACCC, was “overwhelmingly” due to higher international refined petrol prices, Singapore Mogas 95 Unleaded (Mogas 95), and a lower Australian/US dollar exchange rate. Quarterly average Mogas 95 prices, in Australian cents per litre, increased by 12.8 cpl.

These factors pushed quarterly average petrol prices in the five largest cities to the highest level on record in nominal terms (195.6 cpl). In real (inflation-adjusted) terms, average prices in the five largest cities weren’t as high as they were in 2022, or as they were in during the Global Financial Crisis (when they were 221.8 cpl in real terms in the September quarter 2008).

In the September quarter this year, average retail petrol prices in the three smaller capital cities increased by less than the larger capitals. Quarterly average prices in Hobart rose by 11.8 cpl (to 198.5 cpl), and in Canberra by 10.2 cpl (to 197.4 cpl). Average prices in Darwin were below the average price in the five largest capitals, at 192.6 cpl (up 10.2 cpl from the previous quarter).

“Petrol prices varied across the 190 regional locations the ACCC monitors, however quarterly average petrol prices in regional locations in aggregate (195.4 cpl) were marginally below average prices in the five largest capitals,” says Mr Keogh.

Retail diesel prices

Average retail diesel prices in the five largest cities were 201.7 cpl in the September quarter. This was an increase of 15.1 cpl from the June quarter 2023 (186.6 cpl) and represented the first quarterly increase since the December quarter last year.

According to the ACCC, different international benchmark prices drive retail diesel and petrol prices, and these benchmarks can be influenced by various factors. Average international diesel benchmark prices (Gasoil 10 ppm prices) were 111.0 Australian cpl in the September quarter, an increase of 23.4 cpl from the previous quarter.

“In addition to the broader influences on crude oil prices, the increase in diesel benchmark prices in the September quarter 2023 was influenced by a global shortage of diesel stocks, driven by crude production cuts announced by the OPEC cartel and shortages of refining capacity around the world,” says Mr Keogh.

Middle East conflict

The September quarter report includes data from October and November following the recent conflict in the Middle East.

Weekly average international crude oil and refined fuel prices have fluctuated, following an initial lift in daily prices on 9 October.

“We will continue to monitor retail fuel prices closely as international crude oil and fuel benchmark prices react to the conflict,” says Mr Keogh.

“We encourage Australian consumers to use one of the many fuel price apps and price comparison websites that provide real-time fuel price information to see where they can find lower prices in their area.”

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