Little regional impact expected from real time fuel pricing

Little regional impact expected from real time fuel pricing

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THE introduction of real-time fuel pricing into SA shapes as a benefit at the bowser for city motorists, but the outlook is more sedate for regional fuel buyers.

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CONSISTENT PRICE: A real-time fuel pricing trial is unlikely to have an impact on Steven Mewett and his family's Greenock General Store. The independent petrol station only change their prices once a week.

CONSISTENT PRICE: A real-time fuel pricing trial is unlikely to have an impact on Steven Mewett and his family's Greenock General Store. The independent petrol station only change their prices once a week.

THE introduction of real-time fuel pricing into SA shapes as a benefit at the bowser for city motorists, but the outlook is more sedate for regional fuel buyers.

A two-year trial, expected to begin later this year, will require petrol stations to log into a database and report any price changes half an hour before they occur.

The trial will be implemented by the state government, sparked by a SA Productivity Commission review, which investigated potential models to increase fuel price transparency and support SA motorists in accessing information to buy the cheapest fuel available.

"While this may not reduce the overall cost of petrol, it will help motorists make informed choices and find the cheapest prices at any given time," SA Attorney-General Vickie Chapman said.

Ms Chapman said the government was working on enabling legislation, before going out to tender to find a data aggregator. Price data will be made freely available to app developers, akin to models successfully implemented interstate.

Qld, NSW and NT all have similar models, whereby petrol stations are required to report any price changes to government, with that data then made available to motorists by either government or app developers.

While the SA government is confident of a benefit for city motorists, there are doubts as to what benefit real-time pricing will have for regional buyers.

RAA fuel expert Mark Borlace wholeheartedly welcomed the introduction of real-time fuel pricing, but was not confident regional motorists would benefit.

"We hope to see a saving for regional motorists but we're unsure, as there has been mixed results from other states," he said.

Mr Borlace said real-time fuel pricing had been a positive for large regional centres in Qld and was hopeful places like Port Augusta - traditionally a higher-priced area - would see some benefit.

"If towns have only two servos there's unlikely to be benefit from real-time price reports, which is a shame because on average regional motorists have higher fuel prices and travel more than their city counterparts."

While diesel will be included in the price reports, Mr Borlace said the nature of that market meant real-time pricing would be unlikely to have much impact on prices.

"About 75pc of diesel sales are bought on contract so the large volume is used by semis and trucks who invariably have a contract with a fuel supplier," he said.

"Only 25pc of volume is in the retail market where people shop on price so there are fewer bargains to be had."

Rod Mewett, operator of the family-run independent Greenock General Store service station said real-time fuel pricing may not have much of an impact on his business, with prices set on a weekly basis.

"We're a bit different to the city petrol stations who change their prices more frequently," he said.

"When we order a load of fuel, we have a price we're going to charge based off profit margins and it stays the same until the next load.

"We've got three multi-national branded stations near us and they change prices more often. One minute, we'll be 10 cents more expensive and soon after we'll be 10c cheaper.

"Our customers say they like that our prices don't fluctuate so they can shop around knowing what our prices will be for the week."

Mr Mewett said he supported the model which required reporting only when prices were changed rather than every day, as it would mean less of an impost on his business.

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