Fuel concerns re-emerge
Government officials are raising fresh concerns about the competitiveness of the fuel market, saying industry claims would amount to ‘‘highly unusual’’ behaviour.
After Energy Minister Judith Collins put the fuel industry on notice that it was under close scrutiny on Thursday, petrol companies claimed margins had not changed in the way that official figures suggested.
Figures from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) suggest that the margin fuel companies earn on petrol and diesel collapsed to the lowest level in two years in June, but have since bounced back to recent levels. If correct, the timing would be suspicious, as the drop occurred just before the release of a government-ordered inquiry into fuel prices.
The report concluded that New Zealand’s fuel prices may not be reasonable, and that prices had risen far more some parts of New Zealand in recent years. After Collins accused the industry of ‘‘cynical’’ behaviour, Z Energy - which also supplies the Caltex network - hit back at the MBIE figures, which are provisional.
Z Energy said if margins had dropped in the way MBIE had suggested, the company would have had to consider issuing a warning to its investors because of the impact on earnings.