Fuel prices in regional locations

  • Petrol prices in regional locations are generally higher than in capital cities.
  • In regional locations, petrol prices are more stable and there are less fluctuations compared to metropolitan locations.
  • Factors like less competition and higher transport costs influence regional fuel prices.

What the ACCC does

  • We monitor fuel prices in more than 190 regional locations across Australia.
  • If we think a fuel retailer has broken competition or consumer law, we investigate the issue further and may take action.

What the ACCC can't do

  • We don’t set or control Australian fuel prices.
  • We don’t regulate the fuel industry.

A few key factors influence fuel prices

The factors that influence retail fuel prices also apply to prices in regional locations.

Petrol prices in all locations are largely driven by changes in:

  • international benchmark prices for refined petrol
  • the Australia-United States dollar exchange rate.

The extent to which petrol prices are influenced by these factors varies between regional locations. It also depends on the specific characteristics of each location.

Some extra factors apply in regional locations

Fuel prices in regional locations are also influenced by some other factors that don’t apply to city locations.

Fuel prices are generally higher in regional locations

Fuel generally costs more in regional locations than city locations.

This is due to:

  • fewer people and less demand resulting in fewer outlets, leading to less competition
  • higher costs for storage and transport of fuel, as fuel needs to travel longer distances
  • less demand for convenience sales, like drinks, food and other convenience items and services, which bring in revenue and can help retailers keep fuel prices down
  • the location of outlets–whether they are on a highway and likely to attract more customers.

Fuel prices tend to be more stable

Fuel prices tend to be more stable in regional locations.

This is in contrast to the 5 largest capital cities where petrol prices move up and down in a pattern of price cycles.

Fuel prices change more slowly

Fuel prices in regional Australia also change more gradually than the 5 largest capital cities. Prices tend to be slower to fall and slower to rise.

Regional fuel retailers don’t usually sell their fuel stocks as quickly as city retailers. So, when there is a change in the relevant international benchmark or wholesale price of fuel it generally takes longer to impact retail prices.

We monitor regional fuel prices and competition

We monitor fuel prices in more than 190 regional locations across Australia.

As many regional locations have a small number of fuel retail outlets, we pay special attention to changes in business ownership. This is to ensure that a proposed sale will not substantially lessen competition in the region. See Mergers for more information about our actions in mergers.

We also receive complaints from consumers about fuel prices in regional areas and related matters.

When we identify a concern about fuel prices in a regional area we:

  • review recent price movements and the structure of the region’s market
  • may ask local retailers for information to help us decide if we need to investigate further.

If we think a fuel retailer has broken competition or consumer law, we investigate the issue further and may take action.

Report anti-competitive behaviour in the fuel industry

Anyone can report a fuel retailer not competing fairly to the ACCC. We use these reports to identify issues that need investigation.

Make a report to the ACCC

See also

What affects fuel prices

What the ACCC does in fuel monitoring