The price of fuel has been a hot topic across the Northern Rivers as the price of oil has been dropping and increasing difference on fuel prices from $1.49 to $0.92 depending on where you are. Ballina Councillors were debating the topic only yesterday in their council meeting as they look to assist residents to get the best prices.
Accusations of price gouging have been voiced yet local operators say there are reasons for the big differences in their prices that are legitimate.
‘We adjust the fuel pricing twice a week when we get our fuel delivery and it is used on the price on the docket,’ Tony Nacleario from Mullumbimby Cooperative told Echonetdaily.
‘I follow the fuel pricing dockets to set the price. Two weeks ago we were ten cents below the price in the rest of Mullum and were equivalent to the price in Brunswick Heads for about three weeks.’
The size of a fuel stations tanks, how much fuel they sell and how often the oil companies are prepared to deliver can all impact on the price they are able to sell their fuel at and how often the price can be varied.
Woolworths and Coles have reductions on fuel prices linked to shopping at the chain stores that further complicate comparisons. As Mr Nacleario pointed out, large corporations like Coles and Woolworths have a lot more flexibility to adjust their prices than smaller, locally owned businesses like the Mullum Cooperative.
At the time of writing on average most fuel stations are charing the following for unleaded 91: Ballina around $1.29 per litre, Tweed Heads is at about $0.95, Mullumbimby is between $1.07 to $1.15 per litre, Murwillumbah is between $0.99 and $1.29, Brunswick Heads are heading below $0.96 and Lismore is at $1.18 per litre.
Mullumbimby cooperative gets a delivery twice a week, Tony Carrburg in Mullumbimby gets deliveries once a fortnight while The Village Green in Brunswick Heads has four deliveries a week.
Receiving a delivery once a fortnight means the Tony Carsburg has significantly less price variability than the Village Green. However, as owner operator of Village Green James Barnes points out this can be both an advantage and a challenge.
‘When the price starts to go down that works in our favour – but when the price is going up then our prices go up faster than others, like the other fuel stations in Brunswick that have larger fuel tanks.’
The dropping prices of oil have finally begun to be passed onto the end line consumer – in some cases.
‘The drops have been unprecedented. It is a political thing really. They have a massive glut of oil stock and really it comes down to political jousting between America and the Middle East suppliers.
The whole deal of how they price a barrel of oil is just a fairy tale,’ said Mr Carburg.
‘They have massive storage capacity. If there is a drop in the price of oil you might wait two weeks before they decide if they are even going to pass it on or not. If there is an increase the it is immediate.
‘It was $1.49 in Ballina not that long ago. Now it is down by $0.34 a litre. I do expect it to come down a bit more. There has been a reduction in aviation and the use of cars on a global level while people are not allowed out. The combination of this on a world wide level adds up and create a massive oil glut.’
The key message is that customers need to keep up to date on who is charging what for fuel around the region. With difference of over $0.30 a litre driving a little further for fuel may just be worth it. You ca compare fuel prices online at Fuel Check NSW before you set out for one of your big weekly spends.
‘I’ve even had people coming from places including Ballina and Lismore and they have been saying thank you for remaining open,’ said Mr Barnes.
♦ Woolworths stated ‘We sold our petrol business to EG Group in April 2019. EG Group now determines fuel prices across its network of stores.’ Echonetdaily contacted EG and Caltex but did not receive a response prior going to print.