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Petrol gloom at $1 a litre

PETROL is set to break the $1-a-litre barrier next week for the first time in Tasmania's history.

And leaded and unleaded could spiral to $1.10 a litre by next month. The wholesale price of petrol has risen by 5c a litre in the past 10 days. And the rise is expected to continue until the end of April, the state's peak petrol retailing group warned yesterday.

"This is unprecedented, and the forecast isn't good," Tasmanian Automobile Chamber of Commerce executive director Paul Walters said.

"It might go up to $1.10, for both leaded and unleaded, by the end of April," he said.

Some service stations are experiencing petrol rage in the face of the increases, and retailers have called for calm.

Caltex Eastlands manager Tony Rice said one of his staff had been abused by an angry motorist this week.

"You tell them it's not our fault but staff still get abused," Mr Rice said.

Yesterday unleaded was about 93.7c a litre in Hobart and leaded was 95.7c. But the wholesale petrol price rose another 0.85c a litre overnight, which is yet to be passed on.

Mr Walters said the wholesale price of petrol was now 91.6c for leaded and 89.0c for unleaded. Retailers need to add about 8c to 10c to the wholesale price simply to break even, he said.

Even without any more rises, present wholesale prices would push unleaded up to $1 early next week and see leaded pass $1.

Mr Walters said motorists were being "held to ransom" by the OPEC oil producing countries, which were restricting the supply of petrol to keep prices high.

Mr Rice erected giant signs beside his bowsers six months ago to help angry motorists understand how the retail price was reached  setting out the wholesale price and taxes.

When the signs first went up, in September, unleaded was 81.9c a litre. Yesterday it was 93.7 - a rise of 14.4%.

The price of diesel has also risen 5c in 10 days, prompting industry predictions that transport costs might rise.

Tasrail has already increased prices slightly but would not say how much.

Tasrail general manager Robert Evetts said they had absorbed the burden for as long as possible.

Tasmanian Transport Association executive director Warwick Counsell said the trucking industry was considering a temporary price rise of 6%, which would be lifted once diesel prices fell.



Posted as a continuing record for we live in non-inflationary times. Peace be with you all...

Regards from OZ

-- Pieter (, March 10, 2000


Thanks for this, Pieter. It just gets worse:


IEA warns of dwindling oil inventories in richer nations

The International Energy Agency's site is at:


LONDON (March 10, 2000 3:51 p.m. EST

A survey released Friday found that the world's richest countries have depleted their oil inventories to the lowest levels seen in four years, reinforcing concerns that motorists will soon be paying even stiffer prices to fill their tanks.

Pinched profit margins for oil refineries have caused a slowdown in the production of gasoline and other products, and this delay could lead to gas shortages during the peak driving season this summer, the International Energy Agency reported.

World output of oil increased in February by a slight 0.3 percent to 75 million barrels per day.

However, drastic reductions in oil inventories in the United States, Europe and Japan have created a shortfall in global petroleum supplies of about 2.5 million barrels per day, said David Knapp, editor of the IEA's monthly oil report.

This shortfall is expected to widen in the during the second half of 2000, when consumer demand historically rises, first for gas and later for home heating oil.

"We are quite concerned," Knapp said from his office in Paris.

For motorists, the report's implications are bleak. Americans are already paying nearly $1.50 for a gallon of gasoline, compared to prices of less than $1 last winter.

Average U.S. retail gas prices of $1.80 and even $2 per gallon are looming on the horizon, warned Roger Diwan of The Petroleum Finance Company, a consultancy based in Washington.

"You need to build stocks and you need to be able to run your refineries at a higher rate in order to meet the higher demand," Diwan said.

The IEA report reinforces a prediction by the U.S. Energy Department issued earlier this week that gas prices could spike at $1.75 to $1.80 this summer because production isn't keeping pace with demand.

The IEA is part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a group of the world's wealthiest countries. Its report underscores the importance of the March 27 meeting in Venice of oil ministers of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

OPEC is worried about the recent price volatility, and analysts now expect the group to ease some of the production cuts that it made in 1998 and 1999 to boost historically low prices.

OPEC members have refused to specify the likely size of any increase.John Toalster of SG Securities in London predicted a "fairly cautious" addition of a maximum 1.5 million barrels per day.

The likelihood that OPEC would boost output improved this week when Iran, one of the group's staunchest price hawks, appeared to express support for increased production.

However, analysts suggested that OPEC is not likely to pump enough barrels for importers to meet current demand while also replenishing oil inventories.

The IEA noted that inventories in rich countries have slipped to their lowest level since the early spring of 1996. Heavy consumption should ease somewhat in the second quarter, but demand will pick up again toward summer, it said.

These factors have contributed to volatile oil prices.

Crude has surged from $10.72 a barrel on Dec. 10, 1998, reaching a 9-year high of $34.20 during intraday trading Tuesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. At late afternoon in New York, light sweet crude for April delivery was trading at $31.67 per barrel, down 2 cents.

Heating oil prices doubled in some parts of the northeastern United States this winter, and U.S. gasoline prices have neared $1.50 a gallon.

In London, a contract of North Sea Brent crude for April delivery was trading at $29 per barrel on the International Petroleum Exchange, down 29 cents from Thursday's close.

OPEC boosted production last month by 540,000 barrels per day, with Iraq and Nigeria accounting for much of the increase, the IEA said. OPEC was 74 percent compliant with its output cuts in February, down slightly from a revised compliance rate for January of 78 percent.

However, the IEA warned that several OPEC members, including Venezuela - the group's No. 3 producer - are already at or near their production limits. The report blamed the lack of spare capacity on a dearth of investment in new equipment during 1998, when oil prices and revenues were much lower.

The impact of the report, said Peter Gignoux, head of the petroleum desk at Salomon Smith Barney in London, was to fire "warning shots all over the place."

-- viewer (, March 10, 2000.

Come on,now,lets not start another Hate Campaign against OPEC.Your Oil Companies are buying their Oil at the same Place and for the same Price(+-)we are.The Reason You are paying those Prices at the Pump,is,because You are financing a Host of social Programs with the Money.So,quit riling up the "Greasy T-Shirt"and other Impressionables with Your Propaganda.

-- Easter Bunny (existing@good.times), March 11, 2000.

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