Peter battles petrol price pain

Motorist Peter Wickman wants to know why petrol prices at a notorious intersection are so high.

By Danielle Kutchel

Petrol price rises, like death and taxes, have become a certainty in life.

And it’s a certainty that medical courier Peter Wickman is sick of having to live with.

Mr Wickman travels all over Victoria for work and said he has noticed that prices for the precious fluid are typically far higher around the intersection of Heatherton Road and Stud Road than in other parts of the state – even as much as 12 cents a litre more than the Victorian average.

After first noticing the higher prices around six months ago, Mr Wickman decided to start contacting petrol companies to ask for an explanation as to why petrol prices were so high – but he received mixed responses.

The companies told Mr Wickman that prices are checked daily and are based on regional influences or fluctuate due to transport costs.

After contacting BP, Shell and Caltex, he said he was left with the impression that “they don’t care”.

In fact, he said BP never responded to his messages, while Shell provided what looked like an automatically generated response.

“I feel like nothing will get done, because I’ve been asking for as long as I’ve noticed and nothing has changed,” he told the Journal.

“Regardless of the petrol price, they’re 10-12 cents higher.

“What is so special about the Heatherton Road-Stud Road intersection that they pay up to 12 cents a litre more than the majority of metropolitan petrol stations?”

CommSec’s senior economist Ryan Felsman said rising international crude oil prices were likely to increase pump prices.

“Automotive fuel prices have already lifted by around 5.5 per cent in the December quarter and are expected to show up in the inflation data scheduled for release on January 29,” he said.

“A combination of the ending of the current retail petrol price discounting cycle and rising international crude oil prices (Australia is a net importer of refined petroleum) are likely to push pump prices in the coming weeks,” he added.

Mr Felsman said drivers can shop around for the cheapest fuel by downloading apps on their smart phones – such as MotorMouth and RACV.

But Mr Wickman said he believes that “something suss is going on”, and that the prices were beginning to eat into his household budget.

“I have to manage the best I can. Also, I don’t buy local, as much as I would love to.

“But when every cent counts and you’re filling up two or three times a week, 12 cents a litre becomes a lot.

“If I don’t have petrol in the car, I don’t work, which means I don’t get paid.”

At the time of writing, website PetrolSpy listed the prices at BP, Caltex and Shell at the intersection as hovering at $1.71 for Unleaded 91 – but barely a block away Liberty was selling the same for $1.65 and just a short drive away, on the South Gippsland Highway, motorists could fill up for $1.61.

BP, Caltex and Shell have been contacted for comment.

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