Petrol may soon hit $1.20 a litre
By Zoe Satherley
"Up is the only way petrol prices are going to move," says Don Bowden.
"There is no such thing as a top price where they will peak," according to the chief executive of the Service Stations Association.
Northern Rivers' residents are being slugged with record fuel prices as crude oil also hits a record ? $US60 a barrel.
Motorists' groups warn that families may be priced out of running their cars when a litre of petrol climbs to an expected $1.20 within weeks.
"Petrol is just a commodity ? like wheat. If everyone suddenly wanted to eat wheat bread all over the world there would be a surge in demand and wheat farmers could ask whatever they wanted," Mr Bowden said.
"It's the same with fuel. People all over the world have a huge appetite for it. On the simplest level it's about supply and de- mand."
Mr Bowden said crude oil prices had risen about 50 per cent over the past 18 months and he could see no reason why the rate of increase would slow.
He said petrol prices at the bowser would steadily rise and people in regional areas would suffer most.
Fuel in regional areas is dearer because of three main reasons:
Transport costs need to be added; there is less competition; and lower customer numbers means country service stations need to have higher margins than city counterparts to remain viable.
Mr Bowden said a major emerging problem was the two main supermarkets, Coles and Woolworths, holding country people to ransom.
"These two supermarkets now dominate the industry," he said.
"If they decide not to discount in regional areas, as happened in January, then consum