Fuel con­cerns re-emerge

Central Leader - - SITUATIONS VACANT - HAMISH RUTHER­FORD

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.

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