Overview of 2020-21 Fuel Prices in Australia

Overview of 2020-21 Fuel Prices in Australia
It’s no surprise that COVID-19 has taken its toll on Australian petrol prices. We’ve seen a relatively significant drop and subsequent rise in petrol prices around the state in the 2020-21 financial year.
Thanks to the OPEC cartel and other big producers cutting down on oil production, as well as the global demand for fuel post-pandemic, the Aussie fuel price has shot back up to pre-pandemic levels in the country’s five largest cities in the March 2021 quarter. These prices are reflective of the international refined petrol prices, and are influenced further by the higher AUD-USD exchange rate and local government taxes.
ACCC Chairman Rod Sims explained that the last quarter has seen market data for Australian petrol prices reflecting those of the Asia Pacific region, meaning that an increase in Asia Pacific petrol prices saw a similar increase for Aussie motorists.
Here we can see a snapshot of the annual average retail petrol prices across Australia for 2020-21, as well as the cents per litre (cpl) change from the previous financial year.

Petrol Snapshot 2020-21

annual average retail petrol prices
Map of Australia
Icon of a fuel pump
darwin
$125.1
8.7
Icon of a fuel pump
brisbane
$133.6
3.2
Icon of a fuel pump
sydney
$129.4
3.4
Icon of a fuel pump
melbourne
$133.1
2.7
Icon of a fuel pump
hobart
$132.1
15.7
Icon of a fuel pump
adelaide
$125.6
10.2
Icon of a fuel pump
perth
$126.7
5.1
Icon of a fuel pump 5 largest cities

When we look at sales volumes, however, the story isn’t as clear. The ACCC’s June 2021 Quarter Report shows us that Aussies have been filling up significantly less than pre-pandemic. This was expected, thanks to the extended lockdowns that capital cities like Sydney and Melbourne have been experiencing. Even in the states in which local travel is permitted, Aussies haven’t been running to the pump as often as in previous years.

Components of Retail Petrol Prices in the Quarter

breakdown of average petrol prices in the 5 largest cities
Australia’s average petrol sales volume for the previous financial year was roughly 11% lower than for the 2018-19 financial year.
  • Other costs and margins (wholesale and retail)
  • Taxes (excise and GST)
  • International cost of refined petrol (Mogas 95)
Australia’s average petrol sales volume for the previous financial year was roughly 11% lower than for the 2018-19 financial year.
  • Other costs and margins (wholesale and retail)
  • Taxes (excise and GST)
  • International cost of refined petrol (Mogas 95)

Retail Prices by State: March to June 2021

There’s plenty to consider when looking at the jump between the March and June 2021 quarters. The average retail petrol price for June increased to 142.0 cpl (cents per litre) for the country’s five largest cities. This is a whopping 8.6 cpl greater than the average for the March 2021 quarter of 133.4 cpl – thanks again to international refined prices.
Looking at the table below, we can see a breakdown of the five largest capital cities and the petrol price fluctuations from the March to June 2021 quarters. As we can see below, we saw the biggest price increase in Brisbane, while Adelaide saw the least. While Brisbane isn’t the country’s largest city by size or population, it has a habit of charging the highest petrol prices nationwide. The June 2021 quarter saw prices topping the charts once again, after two previous quarters of falling short to Melbourne’s hefty prices.

Retail Prices by State: March to June 2021

There’s plenty to consider when looking at the jump between the March and June 2021 quarters. The average retail petrol price for June increased to 142.0 cpl (cents per litre) for the country’s five largest cities. This is a whopping 8.6 cpl greater than the average for the March 2021 quarter of 133.4 cpl – thanks again to international refined prices.
Looking at the table below, we can see a breakdown of the five largest capital cities and the petrol price fluctuations from the March to June 2021 quarters. As we can see below, we saw the biggest price increase in Brisbane, while Adelaide saw the least. While Brisbane isn’t the country’s largest city by size or population, it has a habit of charging the highest petrol prices nationwide. The June 2021 quarter saw prices topping the charts once again, after two previous quarters of falling short to Melbourne’s hefty prices.

Quarterly average petrol prices in each of the 5 largest cities: March quarter 2021 and June quarter 2021 – cpl

Quarter
Sydney
Melbourne
Brisbane
Adelaide
Perth
5 largest cities
 
March 2021
132.8
136.2
135.6
132.1
130.3
133.4
June 2021
143.6
144.5
146.8
135.2
139.9
142.0
 
 
 
March 2021
132.8
June 2021
143.6
Change
10.8
March 2021
136.2
June 2021
144.5
Change
8.3
March 2021
135.6
June 2021
146.8
Change
11.2
March 2021
132.1
June 2021
135.2
Change
3.1
March 2021
133.4
June 2021
142.0
Change
8.6
March 2021
133.4
June 2021
142.0
Change
8.6
Source: ACCC calculations based on FUELtrac data

One surprising outcome of the last financial year has been Darwin’s 180-shift on fuel prices. The city took the cake for the cheapest average petrol price out of all the capitals – after only half a decade ago offering prices 19.0 cpl higher.

Regional vs. Metropolitan Fuel Prices

Realistically, there will always be disparities in petrol prices between regional towns and metropolitan areas thanks to the saturation levels of local competition. ACCC Chairman Rod Sims explains that “regional Australians have [historically] paid more for petrol than motorists in the five largest cities”. However, the June quarter 2021 results indicate a four-consecutive-quarter price difference, with cheaper petrol prices in regional areas. This can partially be attributed to COVID-19 lockdowns generally not affecting low-populated regional areas, as well as a slower reaction to reduced international fuel production.

Other reasons for this price disparity include:

                 
For the June 2021 quarter, we’ve seen regional petrol prices averaging 141.0 cpl – 1.0 cpl lower than the average prices seen in the country’s five largest cities.

Regional vs. Metropolitan Fuel Prices

Realistically, there will always be disparities in petrol prices between regional towns and metropolitan areas thanks to the saturation levels of local competition. ACCC Chairman Rod Sims explains that “regional Australians have [historically] paid more for petrol than motorists in the five largest cities”. However, the June quarter 2021 results indicate a four-consecutive-quarter price difference, with cheaper petrol prices in regional areas. This can partially be attributed to COVID-19 lockdowns generally not affecting low-populated regional areas, as well as a slower reaction to reduced international fuel production.

Other reasons for this price disparity include:

For the June 2021 quarter, we’ve seen regional petrol prices averaging 141.0 cpl – 1.0 cpl lower than the average prices seen in the country’s five largest cities.

Monthly average retail petrol prices (cpl) from July 2019 to June 2020, for regional locations vs 5 largest cities

Monthly average retail petrol prices (cpl) from July 2019 to June 2020, for regional locations vs 5 largest cities

Source: ACCC calculations based on FUELtrac data

How Much Do Australians Spend on Petrol?

We know the average petrol prices per state, and in regional areas compared to metropolitan areas – but how much do Australians actually spend on petrol each month, or year?
According to Compare the Market’s Bill Shock Tracker survey, the average cost for filling up each month is $117, or $1,404 for the year. If we’re talking in terms of states, Western Australia takes the cake for the highest average petrol costs for residents. On average, they can be looking at $134 a month, thanks to residents upping their commute times significantly from 2002 – 2017.

How Much Do Australians Spend on Petrol?

We know the average petrol prices per state, and in regional areas compared to metropolitan areas – but how much do Australians actually spend on petrol each month, or year?
According to Compare the Market’s Bill Shock Tracker survey, the average cost for filling up each month is $117, or $1,404 for the year. If we’re talking in terms of states, Western Australia takes the cake for the highest average petrol costs for residents. On average, they can be looking at $134 a month, thanks to residents upping their commute times significantly from 2002 – 2017.

Developments in the Petroleum Industry

Schemes for petrol price transparency

Developments in the Petroleum Industry

Schemes for petrol price transparency

We’ve been seeing a slow transition in the Australian petroleum industry over the past few years now. Where things once were kept largely private, there’s been a big push for price transparency. This has seen various states and territories opting to introduce ‘transparency schemes’ to make petrol prices visible for consumers and to offer solutions for finding cheaper petrol. Such changes in the industry have been largely driven by stakeholders like the Australian Institute of Petroleum (AIP), which is a non-profit industry organisation helping to develop sustainable and efficient petroleum production.

We’ve been seeing a slow transition in the Australian petroleum industry over the past few years now. Where things once were kept largely private, there’s been a big push for price transparency. This has seen various states and territories opting to introduce ‘transparency schemes’ to make petrol prices visible for consumers and to offer solutions for finding cheaper petrol. Such changes in the industry have been largely driven by stakeholders like the Australian Institute of Petroleum (AIP), which is a non-profit industry organisation helping to develop sustainable and efficient petroleum production.
In Queensland, fuel price reporting has been mandatory since 2018, thanks to the Fair Trading (Fuel Price Reporting) Regulation 2018. This means all fuel retailers in the state must report their petrol price changes for public viewing. This mandatory reporting was implemented to “make it easier for motorists to take advantage of the fuel price cycle to find the best deal”. A large part of this scheme being implemented successfully is thanks to industry stakeholders like the RACQ and the Australian Institute of Petroleum.
Other states and territories have also undertaken similar schemes, hoping to encourage motorists to shop around before filling up. South Australia published a Commissioned Report of Fuel Pricing in 2020, mandating similar price reporting for fluctuation in retail petrol prices.
In Queensland, fuel price reporting has been mandatory since 2018, thanks to the Fair Trading (Fuel Price Reporting) Regulation 2018. This means all fuel retailers in the state must report their petrol price changes for public viewing. This mandatory reporting was implemented to “make it easier for motorists to take advantage of the fuel price cycle to find the best deal”. A large part of this scheme being implemented successfully is thanks to industry stakeholders like the RACQ and the Australian Institute of Petroleum.
Other states and territories have also undertaken similar schemes, hoping to encourage motorists to shop around before filling up. South Australia published a Commissioned Report of Fuel Pricing in 2020, mandating similar price reporting for fluctuation in retail petrol prices.
ACCC Chairman Rod Sims spoke at the 2017 Asia Pacific Fuel Industry Forum, stating that the transparency of fuel price data “empowers price-sensitive consumers”, and will contribute to creating a highly competitive market through petrol retailing. He went on to say that “petrol is a significant expense for many households”, and that by comparing prices, it will encourage consumers to fill up at retailers who are offering competitive pricing.
Looking at the 2020-21 financial year, the following movements around fuel price transparency occurred:
ACCC Chairman Rod Sims spoke at the 2017 Asia Pacific Fuel Industry Forum, stating that the transparency of fuel price data “empowers price-sensitive consumers”, and will contribute to creating a highly competitive market through petrol retailing. He went on to say that “petrol is a significant expense for many households”, and that by comparing prices, it will encourage consumers to fill up at retailers who are offering competitive pricing.
Looking at the 2020-21 financial year, the following movements around fuel price transparency occurred:
January 2001
Western Australia launches FuelWatch, the country’s first fuel transparency scheme
August 2016
New South Wales announces FuelCheck app and website for fuel transparency
November 2017
Northern Territory launches MyFuel NT to track fuel prices across the territory
February 2020
Australian Capital Territory announces plans to examine partnership with NSW FuelCheck scheme
June 2020
New South Wales announces FuelCheck app surpasses 1 million downloads since launch
June 2020
Tasmania and South Australia announce plans to introduce fuel price transparency schemes in their respective states
December 2020
Queensland Government announces permanent access to real-time fuel price reporting through websites and apps (following a two year trial)
September 2020
Tasmanian Government commences fuel price transparency scheme (FuelCheck Tas)
March 2021
South Australian Government introduces fuel price transparency scheme

Independent Fuel Apps

The mandatory price reporting seen across the country has opened up a whole new market for app developers, service stations, and government agencies alike. Whether you shop through the App Store or Google Play Store, there are many fuel apps available for download. Not only do these provide real-time fuel price information, but most offer in-built satellite-map programming, so you can view petrol stations on a map and click around to find the best deal near you.

Within these programs, motorists can update prices after visiting a service station, and even earn rewards for being a regular user. To make things even more appealing, some even offer ‘price locks’ where users can ‘lock in’ a cheap price deal to use at a later date. There’s no shortage of fuel apps for Australians to download. We’ve compiled a list of the most popular ones below:

RACT Fuel SaverRACT Fuel Saver

Tasmania’s statewide motoring club is the best way for Tasmanians to find cheap fuel. The app lets you earn member discounts and save your favourite fuel types for quick access when you’re in a rush.
Tasmania’s statewide motoring club is the best way for Tasmanians to find cheap fuel. The app lets you earn member discounts and save your favourite fuel types for quick access when you’re in a rush.

RACQ Fair Fuel FinderRACQ Fair Fuel Finder

Queensland’s motoring club has also released its own fuel price app, which offers users the option of saving regular stations to their favourites and earning rewards through fuel vouchers.
Queensland’s motoring club has also released its own fuel price app, which offers users the option of saving regular stations to their favourites and earning rewards through fuel vouchers.

myRAAmyRAA

The Royal Automobile Association of South Australia’s fuel app lets users request Road Service call outs, get notified when great fuel deals are running nearby, and enter competition through the app.
The Royal Automobile Association of South Australia’s fuel app lets users request Road Service call outs, get notified when great fuel deals are running nearby, and enter competition through the app.

RefuelerRefueler

This app allows users to ‘lock in’ cheaper prices for later use – through their ‘click and collect’ program. It currently only services southeast Melbourne stations, but is working on expanding in the near future.
This app allows users to ‘lock in’ cheaper prices for later use – through their ‘click and collect’ program. It currently only services southeast Melbourne stations, but is working on expanding in the near future.

My 7-ElevenMy 7-Eleven

7-Eleven’s app doesn’t follow the traditional fuel pricing agenda, though it does offer some great bargains. Like others, you can lock in cheaper prices, and also offers app-only specials on snacks to entice customers to check in regularly.
7-Eleven’s app doesn’t follow the traditional fuel pricing agenda, though it does offer some great bargains. Like others, you can lock in cheaper prices, and also offers app-only specials on snacks to entice customers to check in regularly.
With the rise in electric vehicles, apps like PlugShare, ChargeFox, and EV Connect are growing in popularity for motorists looking for cheap charging deals.
With the rise in electric vehicles, apps like PlugShare, ChargeFox, and EV Connect are growing in popularity for motorists looking for cheap charging deals.