August 22, 2008

Officials Reject Call for Diesel Inquiry


THE Economic Development Ministry will not investigate allegations of unusually high importer margins on diesel, despite a request from the Automobile Association.

Oil companies dropped the price of diesel 6c a litre yesterday. On top of an 8c-per-litre drop last week, diesel is now $1.66 per litre, about 60c more than the same time last year.

AA said the price should have come down further and faster. Spokesman Mark Stockdale said he had spent weeks asking oil companies why importer margins on diesel fuel were so high, given that the international price had dropped considerably.

"Now they have finally brought the price down to a level that is correct."

Mr Stockdale said he had contacted the ministry after oil companies had refused to explain.

The ministry said it would not act on the AA request, but would have improved monitoring of importer margins on both diesel and petrol on its website by the end of the month.

A Shell spokeswoman said it had dropped its diesel price six times in the past four weeks. Expectations oil companies should absorb overnight price increases but pass decreases on immediately were unrealistic.

Caltex said diesel prices moved independently from petrol.

"Diesel went up faster, out of sync with petrol, and now it is coming down faster."

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