Bega motorists are feeling the pain of filling up at the bowser as fuel prices break the 140 cents a litre mark for the first time in months.
On Wednesday in Bega the price of unleaded petrol was 140.9 cents a litre at Caltex on Newtown Road, and 145.9 cents a litre at both Caltex Woolworths on Gipps Street and at Coles on Carp Street.
NRMA spokeswoman Rebecca Page said prices at other regional centres on Wednesday ranged from 145.9 cents a litre at Eden and Bermagui, 143.5 cents at Merimbula and 139.2 cents at Tathra.
In Batemans Bay the average price was 143.9 cents a litre but at Ulladulla it was 136.9 cents – cheaper than some Sydney outlets.
Elsewhere in NSW, the prices ranged from 146 cents at Bathurst to 138.6 cents at Wagga.
Ms Page said that while the “worst is behind us”, petrol prices were likely to remain high until the end of January.
With the Australian dollar improving and the price of oil falling, motorists should start to see the wholesale price of petrol begin to drop towards the end of the month, she said.
The price hike had been brought about by two related factors: before Christmas, oil producers signed an agreement to cut production as a result of over-supply in the Middle East; last week that agreement was put into action.
“News of the intended cut was sufficient to cause fuel prices to be artificially inflated,” Ms Page said. “At that stage petrol companies were not paying any more than they had been.”
“In Sydney motorists experienced a price jump of more than 10 cents a litre in a matter of hours,” she said. Bega motorists reported a similar price hike last week.
Ms Page that once oil production was cut there was some legitimate justification for the price rise.
Motorists in the Bega district are not alone in their pain, with prices high right across Australia.
CommSec economist Savanth Sebastian was reported as saying that petrol was the single biggest purchase made by households on a weekly basis and any hike in petrol prices may lead to less household activity, which was of potential concern for retailers.
In another move, it was announced late last month that BP had outlayed $1.8 billion to buy Woolworths' petrol stations.
Caltex, the current supplier to Woolworths petrol stations, was the underbidder and will see its share of the market shrink.