Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Petrol Prices

PETROL thefts, that is, motorists driving off without paying, have risen 16 per cent during the past 12 months in Tassie. The number of people driving off without paying for petrol has risen steadily over the past four years. For many years, petrol hovered below one dollar per litre, but it didn't take a genius to realise that as soon as it went over that psychologically-significant mark, it would go up and up in a relatively short period of time. Sure enough, Tasmanians have seen petrol go from 98¢ per litre to $1.49 per litre in those same four years, with more hikes in fuel costs soon to come because of record crude oil prices.

According to the Shell website, "Large increases in oil prices have not resulted in increased earnings for fuel refineries and wholesalers because competition in the Australian petrol market is so intense. The Australian petroleum and diesel markets are among the most competitive in the world. This results in Australians being able to purchase some of the cheapest petrol in the world." (My emphasis)

Yeah, sure. In 1999, Hobart was paying 82¢ per litre and Brisbane 68¢*. The average wage that year was $961. In 2006, we are paying $1.49 in Hobart and in Brisbane $1.21, average wage is $984. In other words, living in Hobart in 1999 you could buy 1,172 litres of petrol a week, now you can only afford 660 litres on the same income level. Living in Brisbane, you could buy 1,413 litres in 1999, now you can only afford 813 litres on your average wage.

And that comment from Shell about "Australians being able to purchase some of the cheapest petrol in the world"? Petrol in the US is currently about $us2.88 per gallon, or $au3.83. A gallon is 3.79 litres, so we are paying $au5.64 or $us4.24 per gallon, or about 50% more. Some of the cheapest petrol in the world? Yeah, sure.



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