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Fuel not as low as it can go, says consumer watchdog

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Petrol prices are on the slide, but haven’t fallen as much as the competition watchdog expected.

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said that while average prices at the pump fell 8.8 cents to 124.4 cents a litre during the three months to December 31, they weren’t as low as expected given that crude oil prices dropped to an 11-year low.

The ACCC said high refiner and retail margins were to blame.

“While international refined petrol prices are strongly influenced by the price of crude oil, they are also determined by their own global supply and demand conditions,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said in a statement on Monday.

“As global demand for petrol was relatively strong in 2015, prices remained high relative to crude oil prices.

“These high refiner margins are outside Australian control.”

Sims said the ACCC believed that retail prices were unreasonably high in the second half of 2015.

The watchdog wrote a “please explain” letter to major petrol retailers in early February and expects to receive responses shortly.

AAP

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