Average retail petrol prices were lower in the March quarter but reached a nominal high in April

ACCC

Retail petrol prices across Australia’s five largest cities were lower in the March quarter 2024, but daily average prices increased in April to a new nominal high, according to the ACCC’s latest quarterly petrol monitoring report.


Infographic of average retail petrol prices in the March quarter 2024Click to enlarge

In the March quarter 2024, average retail petrol prices across the five largest cities (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth) were 193.2 cents per litre (cpl). This was a decrease of 1.7 cpl from the December quarter 2023 (194.9 cpl).

Among the five largest cities, quarterly average petrol prices decreased the most in Perth (by 4.1 cpl), with average Brisbane prices increasing by 1.4 cpl. Brisbane’s average retail petrol prices were the highest of the 5 largest cities (200.0 cpl).

“Daily average retail petrol prices increased across the five major cities in April following increases in international refined petrol prices and as petrol price cycles in several cities moved towards the highest point of the cycles,” ACCC Commissioner Anna Brakey said.

On 30 April 2024, 7-day average retail petrol prices across the five largest cities moved to a record high in nominal terms, of 215.2 cpl. The following chart shows 7-day rolling average retail petrol prices in real terms, adjusted for inflation over the past 20 years.

Seven-day rolling average retail petrol prices across the five largest cities in real terms: 1 April 2004 to 30 April 2024 – cents per litre (cpl)

Line chart showing seven-day rolling average retail prices in the 5 largest cities.

Source: ACCC calculations based on data from FUELtrac, Informed Sources, and Australian Bureau of Statistics, 6401.0 Consumer Price Index, Australia, March 2024, Tables 1 and 2. CPI: All Groups, Index Numbers and Percentage Changes, accessed on 21 May 2024.

Notes: Real prices are adjusted for March quarter 2024 dollars.

A 7-day rolling average price is the average of the current day’s price and prices on the 6 previous days.

While average retail petrol prices in April 2024 were below the highest price levels seen in the past in real (inflation adjusted) terms, the effects of recent international factors and geo-political events on benchmark prices continued to influence relatively high Australian retail petrol prices.

“We encourage motorists in the five largest cities to refer to our price charts on the ACCC website to keep up to date with petrol price cycle movements and opportunities they present to fill up at lower prices. Motorists around the country can make use of the many fuel price apps and websites to find lower priced retailers in their area,” Ms Brakey said.

Average retail diesel prices decreased by more than 10 cents per litre in all capital cities

Quarterly average retail diesel prices in the five largest cities were 195.7 cpl in the March quarter 2024, a decrease of 12.3 cpl from the December quarter 2023 (208.0 cpl).

“Lower average international refined diesel benchmark prices compared with the previous quarter led to a drop of more than 10 cents per litre in the quarterly average retail diesel prices in each of the capital cities,” Ms Brakey said.

Quarterly average retail diesel prices in the capital cities: March quarter 2024 – cents per litre (cpl)

Map of Australia showing quarterly average retail diesel prices in the capital cities.

Source: ACCC calculations based on data from Informed Sources.

Note:
Image of up and down arrowcpl change from the previous quarter.

International refined petrol prices continue to influence retail prices

International refined petrol prices (which are driven by international crude oil prices) and the AUD-USD exchange rate, largely determine movements in retail petrol prices in Australia. The price of Singapore Mogas 95 Unleaded (Mogas 95) is the price of refined petrol in the Asia Pacific region and is the relevant benchmark for petrol prices in Australia.

In the March quarter 2024, Mogas 95 prices were the largest component of retail prices, accounting for around 49% of quarterly average retail prices across the five largest cities.

“An upward trend in crude oil prices in the quarter was influenced by a number of international factors including conflict and geo-political tension in the Middle East, a rise in attacks on energy facilities in Russia and Ukraine and threats to shipping lanes in the Red Sea,” Ms Brakey said.

The decrease in quarterly average retail petrol prices largely reflected lower average gross indicative retail differences. In the March quarter 2024 gross indicative retail differences decreased by 3.5 cpl to 15.4 cpl, following an increase in the previous quarter.

Gross indicative retail differences are the difference between average retail prices and average wholesale prices, and are a broad indicator of gross retail margins. They include retail operating costs and should not be interpreted as actual retail profits.

Quarterly average gross indicative retail differences can be influenced by lags between the timing of changes in wholesale prices (terminal gate prices) and subsequent changes in retail prices. These effects are less prevalent over a longer period.

In the year to March 2024, annual average gross indicative retail differences were 15.1 cpl, which is around pre-pandemic levels in real terms.

Quarterly average retail petrol prices increased in Canberra, and decreased in Hobart and Darwin

In the March quarter 2024, average retail petrol prices increased in Canberra by 0.3 cpl. Quarterly average retail petrol prices in Canberra were 202.0 cpl, the highest among the eight capital cities for the second consecutive quarter.

“Our analysis of retail petrol prices by major brand in Canberra between October 2023 and March 2024 shows that there was an average range of around 10 cents per litre between the highest and lowest priced brands,” Ms Brakey said. “The FuelCheck app and website provides near-real time fuel price information helping motorists to shop around for lower priced retailers.”

In the March quarter 2024, average retail petrol prices decreased in Hobart by 1.5 cpl and in Darwin by 7.8 cpl.

Quarterly average retail petrol prices in Darwin were 187.8 cpl, which was 5.4 cpl lower than the average across the five largest cities. Average prices in Darwin were the second lowest among the eight capital cities, behind Perth.

Quarterly average retail petrol prices decreased on average in regional locations

The ACCC monitors fuel prices in all capital cities and over 190 reginal locations across Australia. In the March quarter 2024, the average retail petrol prices across regional areas in aggregate (regional prices) were 193.7 cpl, a decrease of 5.2 cpl from the December quarter 2023.

Note

‘Petrol’ means regular unleaded petrol (RULP) unless otherwise specified.

Singapore Mogas 95 Unleaded (Mogas 95) is the relevant international benchmark for the wholesale price of petrol in Australia. Singapore Gasoil with 10 parts per million sulphur content (Gasoil 10 ppm) is the international benchmark for the wholesale price of diesel.

Background

The ACCC has been monitoring retail prices in all capital cities and over 190 regional locations across Australia since 2007.

On 14 December 2022, the Treasurer issued a new direction to the ACCC to monitor the prices, costs and profits relating to the supply of petroleum products in the petroleum industry in Australia and produce a report every quarter for a further three years.

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