Rising petrol margins a worry

PRICE VARIATIONS: On January 31, photographs taken at 11 petrol stations in the area confirmed a 22.2 cent discrepancy in the price of 91 octane petrol.

Rising petrol margins have been the talk of the nation this week, and the discrepancies across East Auckland stations show some startling differences.

On January 31, prices displayed at 11 petrol stations in the Botany/Howick area were photographed by a Times reporter, with a 22.2 cent discrepancy across the board.

Along the Howick-Pakuranga highway, all petrol stations reported a similar figure of 201.9 cents per litre for 91 octane petrol and 125.9 cents per litre of diesel.

This included BP Ridge Road, BP Highland Park, BP Pakuranga, Caltex Highland Park, Mobil Highland Park and Z Highland Park.

Approximately five kilometres away, Gull Ti Rakau Drive advertised 91 octane petrol for 179.7 cents per litre, followed by 184.9 at Caltex Meadowlands and 181.9 at BP Connect East Tamaki, Mobil Ti Rakau Drive and Z Te Irirangi Drive.

Highland Park resident Neil Armstrong claims the 91 octane petrol at BP Connect East Tamaki dropped even further to 169.9 cents per litre around a week ago, reaching a massive 32 cent difference from the cost of petrol along the Howick-Pakuranga highway.

On January 31, photographs taken at 11 petrol stations in the area confirmed a 22.2 cent discrepancy in the price of 91 octane petrol.

Mr Armstrong suggests local residents who travel between Howick and Auckland Central along the highway look elsewhere for a cheaper petrol station to fill up at, as he has done recently.

“It’s not a matter of 10 cents, give or take, its 30 cents, and that’s a huge difference. It’s so far up the scale right now that it couldn’t really go any higher, and it’s unacceptable for certain stations to be creaming it.

“I honestly don’t know how they can all get the same price of petrol and advertise it so differently. You’d be more likely to win the Lotto than to accidentally get the same price.”

Earlier this week, Energy Minister Judith Collins promised to “get to the bottom” of the issue, following a press release from the Automobile Association (AA) calling for a nationwide inquiry.

In the January 31 media release, AA spokesman Mark Stockdale said the situation was “most unusual”, confirming there was no increase in commodity prices or a drop in the exchange rate during the month.

“If anything, the retail price should have fallen [during January], not risen by five cents,” he said.

“The last time fuel company margins came close to the current level, the Government put the fuel companies on notice and asked them to justify the high margins.”

AA has called for fuel companies to give motorists an explanation for the change.