Illawarra motorists who use LPG are being hit with a double whammy – higher prices and gas shortages.
The two issues are unrelated but have come at a bad time with Christmas holidays just weeks away.
Barrack Heights motorist Ian Oxley said he spent Monday driving around looking for LPG but found as many as 10 stations had run out.
The few that had it were charging between 95¢ and $1 a litre, considerably above the previous week’s price of around 75¢.
‘‘I ran out of LPG yesterday but I’ve got dual fuel in my car so I can run it, but other people can’t, unless they pay at least 95¢ a litre, and that’s at three service stations that I know of,’’ Mr Oxley said.
Wollongong Radio Cabs general manager George Isiklar said yesterday sourcing LPG wasn’t an issue.
‘‘As far as the fuel goes we had a bit of a scare over the weekend but since then the major places that cabbies buy their fuel from have stocked up,’’ Mr Isiklar said.
The sharp rise in LPG costs, however, was ‘‘definitely going to hurt them’’, he said.
The taxi drivers would have to absorb the increased cost as they were unable to raise fares as they were set by the NSW Department of Transport.
A spokesman for Caltex said there had been issues with LPG supply to its service stations due to the ongoing issues with Cootes Transport.
Cootes, the biggest fuel transport firm in the country, has been under scrutiny from regulators since one of its trucks was involved in a double fatality in Mona Vale.
A number of their trucks have been taken off the road, leaving a shortage of vehicles to transport LPG.
The Caltex spokesman said the issue affected delivery to 25 per cent of its stations and would be impacting on other fuel companies.
While supply of other fuels was not affected, the spokesman said the shortages were expected to continue over the coming days.
The rapid price rise was unrelated to supply issues and was linked to global factors, according to Mike Carmody, CEO of peak national body for LPG, Gas Energy Australia.
He said the global LPG price was set by the Saudi Contract Price (SCP). That was normally stable with higher prices in our summer as the European market had increased demand for winter heating.
The traditional pattern is for LPG prices start to rise slowly from November, peak at the end of January and return to normal by March.
‘‘This year we were expecting a similar exercise, but this spike, this massive change caught us as much by surprise as the motorist,’’ Mr Carmody said.
He said the spike was linked to three factors; a 20 per cent jump in the SCP, a rapid increase in European energy demands brought on by improving economies, and the devalued Australian dollar.
ACCC says fuel costs remain high
Australia's average metropolitan unleaded pump price eased slightly in the last financial year but domestic fuel costs remain high, the competition watchdog says.
In its latest report on unleaded petrol, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said the international market price of refined product accounted for 53per cent of the cost paid by consumers, with government taxes making up 36per cent.
The remaining 11per cent goes to domestic wholesalers and retailers.
In Australia’s major capital cities, the average pump price fell from 142.8¢ per litre in 2011-12 to 141.3¢ per litre in 2012/13.
‘‘Domestic petrol prices remained high in 2012-13 on the back of persistently high international prices,’’ ACCC chairman Rod Sims said yesterday.
However, Australia’s strong dollar provided some protection from higher international prices.
Due to lower taxes on fuel compared with other countries, petrol prices in Australia are still among the lowest in the OECD.
The ACCC continues to investigate ‘‘significant sources of consumer concerns’’, including price cycles in major metropolitan markets and higher prices in regional centres.
‘‘The increased duration of price cycles and the unpredictability of the low-price day frustrates ... those who take advantage of the low point in the cycle to purchase petrol,’’ Mr Sims said. AAP