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Short relief from sky-high petrol prices as big markets bottom out

Australian motorists are enjoying relief from $2 a litre petrol prices as bowsers in Melbourne and Brisbane approach their low points this week.

Average petrol prices across both cities are about $1.66, down more than 40 cents on the peaks of this time last month, according to the latest figures from Motormouth.

But motorists will need to get in quick to take advantage before bowsers start rising again, with Sydney providing a cautionary tale – average prices increased at the weekend to about $1.90 a litre.

Geoff Trotter, chief executive of market analysis firm Fueltrac, said bowser prices in Brisbane and Melbourne could eclipse $2 a litre again soon, with oil companies looking to claw back profits from motorists.

“The trigger for the fake fuel cycle pricing is usually when the lowest unleaded petrol prices approach the oil companies’ wholesale price, plus freight to site in metro areas,” he said.

“Currently those wholesale unleaded prices … are in the range of $1.61- $1.65 cpl.

“So with pump prices now approaching those levels in both Melbourne and Brisbane we expect they will magically rise possibly as high as $2.079 cpl.”

Motorists enjoy relief

Figures published by the Australian Institute of Petroleum on Monday confirmed national average petrol prices fell about 1.3 cents to $1.73 in recent weeks.

National average wholesale (or terminal gate prices) fell 0.4 cents to $1.64 as relief in global oil markets last month flowed to motorists.

But it won’t be long before that changes, Australia’s big east coast cities experience huge fluctuations in bowser prices on a semi-regular basis.

They’re called market cycles and right now Brisbane and Melbourne are near the bottom, according to the latest data published by Motormouth.

Average petrol prices in Brisbane are just $1.66, according to Motormouth, while motorists are paying about $1.67 in Melbourne.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is advising motorists in Brisbane and Melbourne to buy petrol where possible, saying prices are around the lowest in the cycle.

As mentioned, prices in Sydney rebounded to $1.88 over the weekend but just days ago were only $1.68, Motormouth data shows.

Outside of the three major capitals, the ACCC said motorists in Adelaide should also consider shopping around as bowser prices were rising.

Motormouth data shows petrol prices are averaging about $1.77 a litre in Adelaide, up from $1.65 just a few days ago.

Diesel squeeze

Mr Trotter said motorists who use diesel were being particularly hard hit in metropolitan areas, noting that oil companies were keeping prices in the $1.95-$1.98 range, despite wholesale prices falling recently.

In fact, wholesale diesel prices are around $1.65 – far cheaper.

“[It’s] giving them +30 cpl and note this is historically high, previously [it] was in the range of 18-22 cpl,” Mr Trotter said.

“Oil companies are making much higher average wholesale and retail margins on diesel than they have done previously.”

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