Fuel prices may be unreasonable - Govt inquiry

04 Juillet, 2017, 16:30 | Author: Claudine Rigal
  • Report could spell trouble for petrol companies

A government ordered inquiry says fuel prices at the pump may not be reasonable - and higher prices in the south of the country may be subsidising prices in the north.

The Fuel Market Financial Performance Study was commissioned by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment after many complaints about the cost of petrol.

The market had features which "may not be consistent with a workably competitive market", its report said.

Retail margins have increased "significantly" in the last five years - but those in the South Island and Wellington have increased at a faster rate than margins in the rest of the North Island.

MBie previous year contracted external consultants, comprised of NZIER, Grant Thornton and Cognitus Economic Insight, to do a Fuel Market Financial Performance Study on its behalf.

The study showed that while the profit margin in fuel has risen, price differences are not explained.

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"There were difficulties in comparing the information received from the companies, and some very specific information that was required could not be obtained".

"This could mean fuel prices in the North Island are subsidised by prices across the rest of the country", the study says.

"This is a very complex area and the Study takes us a significant step forward in our understanding".

"I have now instructed my officials to assess the recommendations of the study and report back to me by November".

"Furthermore, the Market Studies powers announced recently by the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs will give the Government the option to direct the Commerce Commission to undertake a further competition-specific fuel market study, backed by the ability to require comparable data across companies. There is now no legal mechanism to do this".

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