Fuel for 99c litre
TWEED Shire Council has been paying up to 20 cents a litre less for unleaded fuel than local motorists.
The "commercial-inconfidence" deal with a major oil company which remains secret has buffered the council from the full extent of petrol rising felt by ordinary motorists.
Even so council administrator Max Boyd in November expressed alarm that rising costs would still force the council to pay an extra $140,000 this financial year.
While motorists in Murwillumbah for most of last month were paying around $1.20 and those in Tweed Heads $1.09 or above, the shire, which buys in bulk, was paying just 0.99c a litre.
The figure was re- vealed in a study council officers have completed on the cost of running its fleet cars.
The study surprisingly revealed it was cheaper to operate a petrol-driven Ford Falcon than a hybrid petrol-electric Toyota Prius.
Mr Boyd sought the study in November after being told of the effect on the council budget of rising fuel costs.
Yesterday in Murwillumbah petrol was selling at $124.9 cents a litre, while at Tweed Heads it was around $1.16.
Council works manager Ian Kite said the deal with Reliance, a subsidiary of BP, was good news for ratepayers.
He said the council was about to call tenders again for the supply of fuel, with suppliers expected to be very competitive.
According to the Service Station Association the council and other bulk buyers are purchasing their fuel cheaper than most station operators.
"Most service stations make about three cents a litre on average," said the association's chief executive officer Ron Bowden.
"It's standard business in the industry. The bigger volume you can buy the cheaper it is."
Yesterday economists predicted prices for unleaded fuel in some Australian cities would hit $1.40 within days, but would probably fall after Easter.