01 May 2009

Petrol Prices...

Some of my loyal readers might prefer the term gasoline. However, in my part of the world it is known as petrol.

This is just a short musing on the fluctuating prices of petrol in Sydney. I recall hearing about how the price fluctuated but had paid little attention to it. After all, I was living in Jakarta and not driving so it really did not make that much difference to me. Now that I have returned to Sydney and drive every now and then I tend to notice these things more.

The price over a seven day period fluctuates between 108.9 cents a litre to around 126.9 cents a litre. Now, what is interesting about this is that it does not seem to be based on any movement in crude oil prices, but rather what day of the week it is.

Tuesday is the cheapest day and Friday tends to be the most expensive day. It also helps that on Tuesday I get a discount of 4 cents a litre because I have a Woolworths loyal shopper card.

I wonder why such huge fluctuations that are not based on changes in the crude oil price are acceptable? Surely there must be a breach somewhere of some code...then again, I guess not as the practice continues.


lawgy said...

check the net my good man - you have been a way a long time. But its a grisly economics matter - dont trouble yourself - enjoy it - and i doubt you get 4 cents as well as the discount - well we dont in QLD- where the prices fluctuate around 10-15 cents below sydney prices - want to move? and explain the lower prices too??

Rob Baiton said...


I have checked the net, my good man.

Indeed, I have been away a long time (and now I am back).

Somewhat patronizing, don't you think? Don't bother myself with the economics - enjoy it!

The 4 cents discount applies on the pump price. If I am not mistaken the pump price was 112.9 and I would pay 108.9.

In my travels on the net I learned a few things, not about how the price was set as I was aware of this, but that petrol companies have not been passing on the full price reduction from the benchmark price.

So, for example if the benchmark price drops, say, 15.4 cents a litre and the petrol companies pass on a price drop of 14.9 cents per litre does this equate to the end user, you and me, being ripped off (that is paying more than we should)?

Nope, no desire to move to Queensland and no desire to explain the lower prices either.

Do you have a blog? I would like to read what interests you and see what you write about.

lawunpatro said...

sorry I dont have a blog. life is too short (im too old would be closer to the truth)

I dont mean to patronise at all - if it appears so it is because of bad writing or impatience or a combination of the two..

as for fuel prices; it seems to be about evidence.... real hard stuff is hard to collect - but they got the little Pratt!!

it has been argued that it is supply and demand - during the week there is less demand...dll

dont think i understand it at all, I dont. I was just amazed that you just noticed something that has been happening in oz for about 15 years (I have been oseas too for this time period ...and still am.

fill up on tuesays; but watch it... sometimes they "go" around 2pm sometimes 6pm etc

Rob Baiton said...


2nd paragraph. I am not just hearing about this now, but rather it has become more of an issue for me now that I am back and do a little driving every now and then.


pj said...

Hi Rob

There was a book I read recently by Lisa Margonelli titled "Oil on the Brain" which dedicates a chapter to price-at-the-pump in the USA. Its certainly an interesting read as it details how little the local petrol station gets from petrol (most profit from the little extra that you buy) as well as the extreme competitiveness between stations, delivery services and refiners. It certainly gives some insight into the relationship between changes in stock market prices and gasoline (oops petrol) prices.

Rob Baiton said...


Thanks. I will see if I can track it down and then have a read.

Anonymous said...

to know in detail why petroleum prices fluctuate ... log on to whydopetroleumpricesfluctuate.blogspot.com

Rob Baiton said...


I normally prefer my anonymous commentators to adopt a pen name so I can distinguish them from other anonymous commentators. I will just assume you own the blog to which you refer in your comment.

I am pretty aware of why oil prices fluctuate. The post that I made referred to the Australian context and particularly a set of events where the world oil price has remained relatively stable and for some significant periods it has fallen.

The particular circumstances relate to a period where world oil price have fallen but these falls have not been reflected at the pump. In fact, I refer to a set of circumstances where prices fall on the world market but increase at the pump on certain days.

It is the practice in Australia that petrol (or fuel) is most expensive on Friday and Saturday. It is generally cheapest on a Tuesday. This is irrespective of the triggers that you note in your blog.

I have responded elsewhere about spot rates and the like.

What is interesting for me is that the Australian motoring community has started to agitate as it is realizing that it is paying on average 10 cents or more per litre than they should be paying.

Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment.

nick said...

for in depth analysis of why petroleum prices fluctuate log on to http://www.whydopetroleumpricesfluctuate.blogspot.com

Rob Baiton said...


Thanks for dropping by and leaving the link.

Are you the anonymous that left the same link as this one?