Petrol price back to all time highs

MICHAEL DALY
Last updated 17:57 04/07/2013

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Petrol prices are back to their highest ever levels after a 4c a litre rise by fuel companies that followed a 3c tax rise on Monday.

The increases took the price of non-discounted 91-octane petrol to 222.9c a litre, equal to levels reached last August.

AA senior policy analyst Mark Stockdale said he could not understand the increase by the fuel companies.

"AA monitoring of commodity price movements and exchange rate movements shows there has been almost no change in the past fortnight.

"Therefore there hasn't been an increase in imported costs for fuel companies and in our view there is no justification for rising prices at this time," Stockdale said.

"The AA is surprised that the fuel companies have increased retail prices so soon after the tax increase on Monday. It isn't a good look to be raising prices so quickly."

He acknowledged the price of oil had been rising on concerns about developments in Egypt, but costs of the refined fuels used in vehicles had not risen in the past two weeks.

The rise in the crude oil price may be passed on to refined fuel prices in coming days, but it had not happened yet, Stockdale said.

The companies also lifted the price of diesel by 4c a litre, but at 153.9c a litre the price was still well below the peak of 192c in July 2008. Road user charges for light diesel vehicles also went up 10 per cent on Monday.

BP spokesman Jonty Mills said the company's last price rise had been on June 7, and since then the exchange rate had fallen from US80c to as low as US77c.

The decline in the NZ dollar had driven most of the latest price rise, although during the past four weeks the cost of refined product had also risen, he said.

He was reluctant to comment on the outlook, saying the price of crude oil was volatile and unpredictable. Overnight it had spiked 2 per cent as a result of the Egyptian developments.

Z Energy spokeswoman Sheena Thomas said the petrol price had been under pressure for more than a month.

Increases at the pump had not kept up with the prices  of refined petrol or diesel on the international market.

The company realised a 7c rise in one week was hard for motorists, and it would not have raised prices this week had margins not been unsustainable for so long, she said.

"We were hoping for the barrel price to fall but what's been happening in Egypt suggests its not going to do that in a hurry."

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