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No race link to fuel price hike, says analyst

A state-wide increase in petrol prices is bad timing for motorists heading to the weekend's Southern 80 ski race in Echuca-Moama.

ASHLEA KUNOWSKI February 8, 2013 4:44am

Motorists across Echuca-Moama will fork out as much as 15 cents per litre more at the bowser this weekend, after wholesale petrol prices increased across the state yesterday.

While fuel prices in Echuca-Moama have remained as low as 138c/litre since the opening of the United service station in December last year — when unleaded prices dropped approximately 10c/litre — motorists will struggle to find unleaded petrol prices below 150c/litre this weekend.

Yesterday morning, prices soared to as much as 155.9 c/litre in a matter of hours, with the lowest price 153.7c/litre.

It comes as thousands make their way to the twin towns for the 2013 Club Marine Southern 80 ski-race.

Independent pricing analyst David Cumming said the timing of the price increase had nothing to do with the annual event.

‘‘It is a coincidence... the crude oil price has gone up,’’ he said.

Mr Cumming said regional areas tended to experience greater prices than their metropolitan counterparts as a result of transport costs.

‘‘There is a 10 to 12 per cent margin in regional areas,’’ he said.

Nevertheless, the cost increase was a surprise, Mr Cumming said.

‘‘It’s bizzare with the strong dollar (that) the wholesale price is going up,’’ he said.

Mr Cumming said supermarkets were so powerful they could dictate prices at the pump and were followed by independent outlets.

He said supermarkets’ eight cent discount shopper-dockets had likely played a role in the price-hike because they needed to compensate for the losses.

‘‘The wholesale pricing system is totally and utterly controlled by the supermarket chains,’’ he said.

He said discount vouchers could negatively impact on regional areas where there was less competition.

‘‘These shopper-dockets manipulate the market, that is not good,’’ he said.

Mr Cumming said it was difficult to estimate how long the higher prices might remain.

‘‘Crude (oil) can go up and down,’’ he said.

‘‘There hasn’t been a consistency in Melbourne or country areas (as) to which days are the dearest.’’

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