ACCC releases March quarter 2015 petrol report

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has released the second quarterly report on the Australian petroleum industry, which examines prices to March 2015.

Following large falls in international crude oil and refined petrol prices, retail petrol prices in the five largest cities (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth) fell to their lowest price in real terms in over fifteen years.

Seven-day rolling average prices fell from a high of around 158 cents per litre (cpl) in July 2014 to a low of around 103 cpl in early February 2015, the lowest price since June 1999 in real terms.
However, these historically low prices were short-lived.

?rude oil prices in February and March 2015 rebounded, influenced by increased political tensions in the Middle East and improved market sentiment due to a reduction in the number of active oil rigs in the US,?ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.

Brent crude oil prices increased by 19% from the middle of January to the end of March, but there was an even larger increase in international refined petrol prices due to industrial action at a number of US refineries and shutdowns for maintenance in some Asian refineries.

Singapore Mogas 95 Unleaded, the refined petrol benchmark that is used to set retail prices in Australia, increased by 35% over the same period, while the AUD?SD exchange rate decreased by USD six cents between January and March 2015.

?he weaker Australian dollar meant that international refined petrol prices were around 4 cpl higher than they otherwise would have been, had the exchange rate remained steady,?Mr Sims said.

?s a result, retail prices in the five largest cities increased by around 30% from early February to end the March quarter at around 133 cpl. Around half of the fall in prices between July 2014 and early February 2015 was reversed in less than two months.?br />

The increase in retail prices has been lower in regional locations.

In its first quarterly report, the ACCC noted that in December 2014 the differential between regional retail petrol prices in aggregate and prices in the five largest cities had increased to 17.5 cpl. This differential remained at this level in January 2015, but narrowed in February and March 2015 when the city-country differential had decreased to 1.9 cpl, significantly lower than the differential in previous months and the average in 2013?4 (5.9 cpl).

?egional prices were slower to fall in line with international price movements, compared with prices in the larger cities. They were also slower to rise in the March quarter,?Mr Sims said.

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