HOL­I­DAY MIR­A­CLE

COM­PE­TI­TION FORCES DOWN FUEL PRICES

The Weekend Post - - Front Page - ALI­CIA NALLY ali­[email protected]

CHRIST­MAS has de­liv­ered a mir­a­cle of the most un­ex­pected kind – lower fuel prices.

An in­flux of com­pe­ti­tion – forc­ing sta­tions to pass on a drop in global oil prices – is the ma­jor rea­son for the fall with Far North mo­torists us­ing un­leaded fuel sav­ing al­most 13 cents per litre.

Tra­di­tion­ally mo­torists leav­ing on fes­tive road trips have been met with Grinch-like be­hav­iour at the bowsers but this year is dif­fer­ent.

A wave of United Pe­tro­leum ser- vice sta­tions rolled into the Cairns re­gion this year and were now be­ing well sup­ported.

United Pe­tro­leum’s chief oper­at­ing of­fi­cer David Szym­czak said they had brought com­pe­ti­tion to Cairns and the prices peo­ple were pay­ing had changed for­ever struc­turally.

The price re­prieve comes af­ter RACQ’s Oc­to­ber Fuel Price Re­port showed fuel com­pa­nies reaped re­tail mar­gins as high as 14.4cpl in Cairns and Ma­reeba, up by be­tween five to six cpl on the pre­vi­ous month.

The drop in fuel prices couldn’t have come at a bet­ter time for Cairns woman Caitlin Knight who has loaded up her car and is ready to em­bark on a trip to Vic­to­ria in the com­ing weeks.

AN IN­FLUX of com­pe­ti­tion into the Cairns fuel mar­ket is ex­pected to drive petrol prices down across the re­gion well af­ter the silly sea­son has wrapped up.

Yes­ter­day, the low­est price in Cairns was just 129.9 cents per litre for E10 fuel at Sheri­dan St’s United Pe­tro­leum ser­vice sta­tion.

The re­prieve at the bowser has been wel­comed by cus­tomers and comes just months af­ter RACQ’s Oc­to­ber Fuel Price Re­port showed fuel com­pa­nies reaped re­tail mar­gins as high as 14.4cpl in Cairns and Ma­reeba, up by five-six cpl on the pre­vi­ous month.

Prices were on av­er­age 137.9cpl in Au­gust last year and only dropped to 132.9cpl in March this year. Since then, they have plum­meted.

United Pe­tro­leum chief oper­at­ing of­fi­cer David Szym­czak said the firm’s seven Far North­ern out­lets had been well sup­ported by the com­mu­nity.

The Woree and Cairns North ser­vice sta­tions opened in 2017 and two new sites re­placed a BP and Cal­tex at Gor­don­vale ear­lier this year.

Other sites are lo­cated at Silk­wood, In­n­is­fail and Koah.

“United has brought com­pe­ti­tion to Cairns and the pri- ces peo­ple pay in Cairns has changed for­ever, struc­turally,” Mr Szym­czak said.

“We have been sup­ported and re­ally thank the lo­cal com­mu­nity for that and will con­tinue to be com­pet­i­tive in the Cairns re­gion.

“Over the time since we’ve opened in Cairns, we’ve saved res­i­dents mil­lions of dol­lars.”

While Mr Szym­czak said he could not re­veal how much fuel the in­de­pen­dent re­tailer had sold in the Far North, nor how many ve­hi­cles passed through each day, he said dur­ing peak times, three at­ten­dants were em­ployed at the Sheri­dan St out­let.

Plans to build a fuel im­port fa­cil­ity at Mourilyan Har­bour would “start to­mor­row” if the United Pe­tro­leum board had its way, ac­cord­ing to Mr Szym­czak, but ap­provals were still pend­ing.

“I would like to think we could ac­tu­ally start in 2019,” he said. “It could be open some­time in 2019. If not, it’ll be 2020.”

RACQ spokes­woman Lucinda Ross says al­though prices in Cairns are higher than they should be, they are drop­ping and “are ex­pected to drop a few more cents over the fes­tive pe­riod”.

“Th­ese drops in the lo­cal price are the re­sult of a drop in the global oil price, with re­tail­ers now fi­nally pass­ing on those sav­ings to mo­torists,” she said. “In Oc­to­ber, we saw global oil prices reach four-year highs and since then, the oil price has col­lapsed and fallen 32 per cent.

“We ex­pect the global oil price and whole­sale price of fuel to stay low over De­cem­ber, and that’ll keep down­ward pres­sure on prices at the bowser for the re­main­der of De­cem­ber and into early Jan­uary. Hope­fully that re­sults in more sav­ings for driv­ers.”

Pic­ture: ANNA ROGERS

LONG TRIP: Caitlin Knight is set­ting off on a road trip to Mel­bourne from Cairns.

PUMPED: David Szym­czak, chief oper­at­ing of­fi­cer at United Pe­tro­leum, is pleased with the sup­port from driv­ers.

COM­PETI­TOR: United Ser­vice Sta­tion at South In­n­is­fail has helped in­crease com­pe­ti­tion.

POP­U­LAR: The bowsers have been in high de­mand at the United ser­vice sta­tion on Sheri­dan St.

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