COMPETITION FORCES DOWN FUEL PRICES
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.”
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.