More fuel price rises on horizon

JASON KRUPP
Last updated 08:34 12/02/2013

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After the latest round of petrol price hikes last week, economists and energy sector professionals are warning motorists to brace for even more shocks at the pump.

On Friday BP, Mobil and Z Energy lifted petrol prices by as much as 4 cents and diesel by 2c a litre, with all three major retailers now selling 91 octane for 217.9c a litre, and standard diesel for 151.9c a litre.

The rise comes on the back of increasing input costs, with Brent Crude trading at a nine-month high of US$118.85 a barrel yesterday, up from sub-US$90 lows seen in July last year.

BNZ economist Doug Steel said consumers had largely been shielded from the near 30 per cent jump in energy prices by the New Zealand dollar, which marched in step with commodity prices over the past three quarters.

However, the trend appeared to be "diverging", he said.

The kiwi recently traded at US83.41c, at the bottom of a one cent trading band the currency has been stuck in for much of this year.

Meanwhile, crude oil has gained 7 per cent over the same time frame. "International (energy) prices have certainly outstripped gains in the kiwi in the last while," Steel said.

Mark Stockdale, of AA PetrolWatch, said the commodity price reflected the fact that the days of cheap oil from the Middle East were nearing an end.

The supply gap is being filled by energy produced from alternative sources, such as oil sands, but these come at a price.

Meanwhile, on the demand side of the equation, the slowly recovering global economy is expected to see demand for oil increase over the course of the year.

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- The Dominion Post

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