16 December 2022

It's a Christmas miracle! Why a trip to the pump is a little less painful these holidays

| James Coleman
Join the conversation
Fuel pumps

Petrol prices have fallen significantly since June when they peaked at more than $2.20 a litre. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

After months of eye-watering, hip-pocket-stinging prices, Canberra’s fuel prices have taken a relieving turn just in time for the holidays.

The average price for regular unleaded petrol is $1.78 per litre today (16 December). After Costco, the cheapest is at the Coles Express service station in Braddon at $1.70, and the most expensive is the Coles Express in Greenway at $1.85.

This pales in comparison with June 2022 when prices smashed through the $2.20 barrier. The industry blamed this on a 60 per cent spike in global oil prices brought on by the war in Ukraine. Russia is the world’s second-biggest producer of oil, pumping almost five million barrels a day.

The Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association (ACAPMA) is the national peak body representing the interests of Australia’s fuel wholesale, distribution and retail industry. CEO Mark McKenzie says the latest downturn is proof the market is stabilising.

“We’ve effectively seen a year of two halves. In the first half, we saw unprecedented volatility as markets were concerned about what the Russia-Ukraine crisis would do to the supply of oil in the face of continuing strong demand post-COVID.”

READ ALSO ‘It doesn’t add up’: advocates rubbish government’s excuse for slashing bus timetable

To make matters worse, the Aussie dollar was falling.

“We buy oil in US dollars, but we pay for it in Australian dollars, so the exchange rate has a lot to do with it,” Mr McKenzie says.

By September, however, talk of $3 per litre by the end of the year turned to the possibility of a global recession in 2023.

“We are starting to see the world get used to a level of uncertainty so the markets have taken away the ‘speculation premium’ at the same time as they grow concerned about a recession and a drop in demand. We’ve seen this in a relatively sustained fall in global oil prices in the last four months of this year and these prices are being reflected in the price of the refined product at the bowser.”

These glad tidings of joy are expected to continue over Christmas and into the New Year.

“We’re not going to see a spike during the summer months,” Mr McKenzie says.

“The oil prices keep dancing up and down by about $5, but I think we’ll probably see prices stay about where they are, barring other ‘black swan’ events.”

READ ALSO ‘Could spell insolvency’ – changes to Competition and Consumer Act crack down on unfair contract terms

He says the market is slightly fearful of the energy situation in Europe at the moment, especially as winter rolls in, but this is more likely to affect diesel than petrol as people power up generators to warm their homes and keep the lights on. Diesel might be cheaper to refine than petrol, but prices in Canberra are already at more than $2 per litre due to demand.

As of November this year, motorists can use the NSW FuelCheck app to check ACT fuel prices online. Mr McKenzie says the service station updates the information on the app within 30 minutes of a change.

“This allows you to decide where to go for fuel and gives a better indication of what fuel prices really look like.”

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.