Coronavirus drives fuel prices down to 12-month low

Moving Well | Sue Hewitt | Posted on 06 March 2020

Coronavirus has caused the price of crude oil to plummet, slashing the cost of fuel.

Amid the doom and gloom of the coronavirus crisis, there is a glimmer of good news for motorists. The virus has caused the price of crude oil to plummet, slashing prices at the bowser.

Melburnians haven’t seen prices as low as this since 2008 and motorists today are filling up for as little as 116.9 cents a litre or an average of 120.7 cents a litre and saving about $26 a tank from the February peak.

Motorists are getting cheap petrol in the wake of falling wholesale world oil prices which have slashed 43.5 cents a litre off the average price of petrol.

“This is the greatest fall we’ve seen ... the average price of fuel has dropped from 164.2 cents a litre on 13 February to 120.7 cents a litre today; that’s 43.5 cents a litre in 27 days,” says RACV senior vehicle engineer Nicholas Platt.

“Motorists are now saving $26.10 on filling up a 60-litre tank.”

Close up of fuel pumps at service station

 

New RACV data shows world crude oil prices have tumbled following a downturn in manufacturing and global air travel as a result of the virus, according to RACV senior vehicle engineer Nicholas Platt.

“It’s been a freefall from the peak on 13 February,” he says. “Prices are still going down and there’s no indication that they’re going up any time soon. This is the biggest fall in retail petrol prices in Melbourne since October 2018, and there could be more to come.

“The figures show world oil prices have fallen 26 per cent so far in March,” Nicholas says. “The Malaysian Tapis crude prices, an index most relevant to the Australian market, has seen more than $35 US wiped off the price of a barrel since the beginning of January.” 

While petrol prices have been plummeting, retailers have to been slow to pass on a drop in wholesale diesel prices, Nicholas says. “The margin on this is massive at present with retailers pocketing more than 25 cents per litre.”

This is the biggest fall in retail petrol prices in Melbourne since October 2018, and there could be more to come.


And although prices have fallen across the board in Melbourne, Nicholas says prices in regional Victoria are patchy, as some retailers have stuck to February prices, while others have made cuts – albeit not as hefty as in Melbourne.

Nicholas says this is an ideal time for Melbourne motorists to take advantage of cheap fuel and head to regional Victoria for a weekend to help support businesses in the bush, struggling with poor visitor numbers in the wake of the January bushfires and coronavirus fears. 

Motorists wanting to ensure they get the cheapest price available should consult the RACV fuel finder.

Road safety explained: what RACV is doing to keep you safe on Victorian roads.