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Pump prices higher now than when oil prices peaked

Hon Jim Anderton
Deputy Prime Minister

22nd May 2000

News Release

Pump prices higher now than when oil prices reached their peak

Deputy Prime Minister Jim Anderton has criticised Shell for increasing its prices today saying that petrol is now 5 cents a litre more expensive than it was when crude oil prices were at their peak.

"We are paying 5 cents more for our petrol than we were three months ago when crude oil was more expensive than it is today," Deputy Prime Minister Jim Anderton said

"Over the last three months crude prices have gone down and then increased again to close 8% lower than they were. In the same period petrol prices at the pump fell by 6% and then increased by 12% to close 5% higher then they were.

"On the 7th of March crude oil prices were at their highest for years at $65 NZ. Petrol sold for 102.9 cents a litre at the pump.

"Today crude oil is at $62 NZ, still lower than the 7th of March. But Shell has put the price of petrol up to 107.9 cents a litre, which is 5 cents higher than it was on the 7th of March. Crude oil prices are lower then they were then, but petrol costs more.

"Petrol companies also seem to take a long time to decrease their prices when crude oil prices fall, but increase their prices quickly when crude oil prices rise.

"Crude oil prices were at their high on the 7th of March. They started to fall away on the 9th of March. It wasn't until crude oil prices had decreased by 20% that we got a 2% decrease in petrol prices on the 22nd of March. This meant the oil companies were selling petrol at the March 7th highs for two weeks more than they needed to.

"Now we see prices increasing at a much greater rate than they decreased. The last two petrol price increases have wiped out the last five petrol price decreases.

"Even discounting movements in crude prices, and assuming petrol companies don't take any cover for currency fluctuations, it seems strange to me that petrol companies always seem to put their prices up at the same time by the same amount.

Just last week energy analyst Alan Jenkins said;

"Petrol prices have all gone up by a huge chunk. You would have though some would've decided to undercut the others. An even leap tells you that they're putting a value on uniformity.

"For petrol companies to put their prices up in unison means they have to the same overheads and price structures. This cannot be the case," Jim Anderton said.

"My Ministry is looking into petrol prices and will be reporting to me shortly on the Carter Holt anti-competitive behaviour decision and whether it has application to petrol prices," Jim Anderton said.


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