RECENTLY I drove to Cranbourne and back in a morning. At Wonthaggi unleaded petrol was 115.9 cents (Brand A, Brand B and Brand C). At Bass, 34 kilometres away, unleaded petrol was 96.9 cents (Brand B). At Tooradin it was 91.9 cents for e10 petrol (Brand D). Nineteen kilomtres up the road from Tooradin, ULP was 90.9 cents with a voucher (Brand B).
My car has a 42-litre tank and wheezes 10 kilomtres with each litre. If I could get to Bass on the second-last drop I would save $7.98 per tankful but spend $6.78 in the process. Every litre left in the tank, on arrival, would deprive me of 19 cents in savings. So it isn't worth the time or the risk.
At Tooradin I can save $10 on the same tankful but I'd blow that at the pie shop.
Our other car's larger fuel capacity is squandered through greater thirst.
A medium-sized tanker holds around 30,000 litres. Assuming everything else is equal, that means that it costs over $160 per kilometre to travel from Bass to Wonthaggi. Maybe the driver goes into overtime? But then the cost doesn't increase between Wonny and Inverloch, Korumburra or Leongatha. How odd. Maybe the driver volunteers beyond some point. Or I should be grateful for small mercies.
Or maybe the stations between Melbourne and Bass sell petrol at a loss to facilitate their core business: selling junk food and soft drink to teenagers.
Bizarrely, at the petrol station next to the Cranbourne Shopping Centre, unleaded petrol was 124.9 cents, while three kilometres distant at Thompsons Road it was 94.9 cents (less 4 cents with a voucher); different brands, of course.
No conspiracy there: I reckon someone in Cranbourne just wanted a quiet day.
Postscript: I drove up to Melbourne the day before the Post published my study of petrol prices. There is a garage within sight of where I was staying. On arrival petrol was 99.9 cents. Anxious to go out for dinner I decided to fill up the next day. Dawn rose over 124.9 cents signs. Infuriated due to my own sloth I drove away and tanked up at the last pump before Citylink. This added an extra two cents per litre. Oddly, the cheapest fuel on the return Leg was 106.9 cents at Koo Wee Rup. Back in Wonny there had been no movement so unleaded was now cheaper than Melbourne. I have cancelled my bulk order for jerry cans and am seeking counselling while working on a scheme for advance purchase of fuel by the litre when it is cheap; a cross between gift vouchers and the futures market.
Geoff Ellis, Wattle Bank
May 7, 2016
Couldn't agree more on comments about the ridiculous variation in prices across a few kilometres. Last Saturday the variation between San Remo and Cowes was 14 cents a litre. If you were a really loyal grocery shopper with a petrol discount you we're really only ripped off by 10 cents a litre!
On the Monday morning I drove to outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne and loyalty customer in the same group could purchase petrol at 20 cents per litre less than Cowes!
Supposedly there is a supermarket price war on in Cowes and Phillip Island but it certainly doesn't apply to petrol!
Do these companies think we buy petrol but don't drive anywhere? Because they clearly think we're stupid! It's good to support local business but not at any price.
Chris Day, San Remo