Petrol price rockets

Petrol prices in the Illawarra are already teetering on the edge of the $1.50 mark, with motorists set to face record fuel prices for the region this Christmas.

If prices stay around the $1.40 to $1.50 mark as predicted, December could have the highest average price of unleaded petrol since records were first taken.

According to Australian Automobile Association figures, June 2006 - where prices averaged out to just under $1.39 in Wollongong - is the most expensive month on record.

But that could be topped by November's figures, due out next week.

Of eight service stations between Shellharbour and Gwynneville observed by the Mercury on Wednesday, six advertised prices were above the $136.9 state average.

One station in Unanderra was asking for $1.49 a litre and it was the same yesterday.

But on Tuesday, prices were closer to the $1.38 mark.

Wednesday and Thursday are generally the days when the price cycle peaks and motorists will be nervously anticipating what lies on the horizon when those days come around next week.

Last week the Mercury reported that experts had predicted the upward price trend leading into mid-December.

Service Station Association chief executive Ron Bowden said the falling Australian dollar was to blame for the increase in pump prices this week but indicated it might not all be doom and gloom.

"Crude prices may have peaked," he said.

"This might mean wholesale petrol prices will stabilise."

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