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Byron Shire
May 18, 2022

Over 30 cents difference in local petrol prices

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Ballina 2002 – the last time prices were dropping this low? Photo supplied.

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.

There are significant differences in petrol prices across the Northern Rivers.

Delivery key

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.

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  1. Having moved from Mullumbimby to Tasmania, our local price here is $1.39 + per litre and I’m still shocked every time I go to the pumps. And apparently the state government here is supposed to offset the extra cost because of crossing Bass Strait . I’d hate to imagine if they didn’t.

  2. I noticed the smallish BP in Woodburn this morning was selling it’s e10 fuel at 99.9 cents when I went past. Coming back in the afternoon it had dropped even further to 97.9 cents, while the premium-98 I got was a very reasonable 119.9.

    Then driving past the brand new big BP in Ballina, their prices were listed at 127.9 and 149.9 respectively. MAJOR difference for what it essentially the same company… though obviously not the same individual owners. I saved over 11 dollars filling up with the smaller guys. That adds up to a LOT if you’re filling up every week for work purposes.

  3. Petrol (Ron98) is consistently 30 cents cheaper at the BP in Broadwater than the BP in Ballina, and that was even before this pandemic – how do those that are price gouging explain that?

  4. What a pity that this isn’t a sugar cane growing region and there are no sugar mills close at hand…
    This could lead to increased production of fuel alcohol – most older cars run quite happily on 30-50% alcohol blends and a little tweaking can get that up to 90%, just enough petrol to start in the morning and awayyyy!

  5. It’s all just “fuel” excuses. Yesterday when I asked why the price was so high (still $1.27 after only dropping from 1.39) I was told by a station in Ballina that their prices are set by Melbourne! Honestly it is bad enough suffering the fuel price without consnatly suffering from being treated like an idiot! The oil price has been down for months not weeks and Ballina residents has been suffering price gouging on fuel for years! Nothing ever gets done! Its wrong at best of time but rven more so now

  6. Expect anything different? NO
    while everyone is doing it tough
    These selfish owners have even ripped off
    Our Anzacs on the 25th . Brunswick heads
    95 cents the owner of Suffolk park shell
    And lennox head shell are taking the Piss
    And how!! 130 litre shame shame shame !!
    Brent crude is about 20 and US is 13 a barrel
    Excuse we are regional one source said !!
    Name and shame people !!


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