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Short-lived: Petrol prices fell to 15-year low

petrol gas prices

The second quarterly report on the Australian petroleum industry by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) revealed the nation’s petrol prices hit their lowest point in real terms in over fifteen years, hitting 103 cents per litre (cpl) in early February 2015.

Australia’s five major cities (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth) saw their seven-day rolling average prices hit 103 cpl in February from 158 cpl in July 2014.

The low prices failed to hold, with Brent crude oil prices jumping 19 per cent from mid-January to the end of March. International prices also jumped, an increase caused by industrial actions at several refineries in the US and Asian refineries having to shut down for maintenance.

The AUD-USD exchange rate, which dropped to USD 0.76 from USD 0.82 between January and March 2014, was also cited as a cause for the price hike.

“The weaker Australian dollar meant that international refined petrol prices were around 4 cpl higher than they otherwise would have been, had the exchange rate remained steady,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

“Crude oil prices in February and March 2015 rebounded, influenced by increased political tensions in the Middle East and improved market sentiment due to a reduction in the number of active oil rigs in the US.”

Prices in the five major cities jumped around 30 per cent from early February to the end of March, which equates to a reversal of close to half the fall seen between July 2014 and early February.