Evans Head service station owner Doug Behn, who warns that independent operators are struggling to compete against the big wholesalers.
Evans Head service station owner Doug Behn, who warns that independent operators are struggling to compete against the big wholesalers. The Northern Star

Small servos feeling the pinch at the bowser

THE price of fuel is on everyone’s mind these days, including Evans Head service station owner Doug Behn.

The independent fuel merchant must pay for his fuel up-front, and can only purchase what his suppliers have in stock. So sometimes he has trouble getting premium blends.

But the biggest bugbear is trying to compete with the big wholesalers who cut prices in a bid to profit from volume.

“Sometimes I make a gain, sometimes I wear the loss. But as an independent I have to work on a profit margin of four to five cents a litre, or it’s not worth me staying in business,” Mr Behn said.

In return, Mr Behn keeps his bowsers open seven days a week, from 5am to 7pm.

“Unless people support their local servo there will be no service in small areas,” he said.

Meanwhile, motorists will be glad to hear fuel prices continue to fall as market prices reflect the falling price of Singapore crude. But a falling Australian dollar has offset that price drop.

Now oil-producing countries are set to limit production by 1.5 million barrels a day from the beginning of November in a bid to keep crude oil prices high, so there is really nothing to do but save fuel to save money.

Fresh data from the Australian Institute of Petroleum shows Singapore petrol prices have dropped 45 per cent, while the Aussie dollar has fallen about 37 per cent – effectively robbing motorists of savings at the petrol pump.

The remaining difference in the two prices, about eight per cent, had been passed on at the pump, the institute said.


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