Unleaded prices in southern Wheatbelt again nearing $2/L despite fuel excise cut

Headshot of Sean Van Der Wielen
Sean Van Der WielenNarrogin Observer
Fuel prices at BP Williams on Sunday.
Camera IconFuel prices at BP Williams on Sunday. Credit: Sean Van Der Wielen/Great Southern Herald

Southern Wheatbelt motorists are again feeling pain at the pump, as bowser savings from the temporary fuel excise cut get eaten away by rising international oil prices.

Unleaded fuel prices have started to creep up in the past few weeks on the back of a short period of declining prices after the March Federal Budget.

The average price of unleaded fuel on Tuesday was 200.9¢/L in Narrogin and 196.6¢/L in Williams, with prices going up by 1.7¢/L and 3.4¢/L respectively in the previous week.

It is a similar situation with diesel, with average prices increasing by 1.3¢/L to 209.2¢/L in Narrogin and by 3.5¢/L to 204.6¢/L in Williams.

FuelWatch co-ordinator Kyle Huynh said Australia’s fuel prices were driven by international markets, with the benchmark price in Singapore playing a major role in local prices.

“Over the last (eight) weeks this benchmark has trended upwards and recently reached record highs over AU$223 per barrel,” Mr Huynh said.

“This was due to a combination of supply issues driven by ongoing tight refined product inventories and crude oil production not meeting demand, and growing demand as more South-East Asian countries remove COVID-19 related restrictions.”

More recently, China’s easing of harsh lockdowns and increased demand from the US as it enters the summer driving season have driven prices up.

Mr Huynh said more pressure was coming from the European Union’s decision to limit imports of Russian oil last week, but motorists would not feel the impact immediately.

“As it generally takes metropolitan petrol prices between one to two weeks — and up to a further four weeks for regional WA petrol prices — to follow movements in the Singapore benchmark price, there is an expectation that WA petrol prices will continue to trend upwards in the short-term,” he said.

WTI Crude, which is the benchmark oil price for North America, rose in price from US$70.91/barrel on June 7 last year to US$119.27 on Monday night, an increase of almost 70 per cent.

Despite the pain at the bowser, motorists are being reminded it could have been worse if the fuel excise had not been temporarily halved.

“FuelWatch analysis shows that the benefits of the excise reduction, amounting to 24.3¢/L, has been and continues to be passed on to southern Wheatbelt ULP retail prices,” Mr Huynh said.

Modelling released last week by the University of Canberra shows the average southern Wheatbelt household is predicted to save more than $250 over the six-month lifespan of the fuel excise cut.

However, the figure is significantly below the $700 former Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said a two-car household which filled up once a week would save under the measure.

When asked whether motorists could expect to see a peak in petroleum prices, Mr Huynh said the international benchmark prices were “extremely volatile”.

“It is very difficult if not impossible to predict future prices beyond the near term,” he said.

On Tuesday, Shell Narrogin had the town’s lowest price for unleaded at 189.9¢/L.

It shared the lowest diesel price with BP Narrogin at 208.9¢/L.

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