Like it or not, fuel hike has hit home

By DAVID MOASE

COFFS Coast motorists may not like the fact but some of them are now being forced to spend $100 to fill the petrol tank of their car.

Pump prices for unleaded fuel yesterday reached an unprecedented 135.9 cents a litre and seem set to continue on an upward path.

While drivers shopping around could still find prices in Coffs Harbour from 126.9 cents, owners of large vehicles face having to pay a three-figure sum every time they stop to fill up their car at a service station.

If the increasing cost of petrol is not bad enough, thieves may now have their eyes on the contents of your vehicle's tank.

Two late-model Holden Commodores parked in Vernon Street, Coffs Harbour, last week had their petrol tanks drained, with a total of more than 50 litres stolen from the cars.

While police have no leads into the unusual robberies, it seem likely they were linked to the rising price of petrol.

According to the Australian Institute of Petroleum, average Coffs Harbour prices have risen more than 30 cents a litre over the past seven months after sitting on about $1.04 a litre for most of February.

Since then, the rise in the cost of unleaded petrol has been relentless as it follows the escalating cost of crude oil on world markets.

In the past five weeks alone, the average price of unleaded has risen about 10 cents a litre.

Paul Amos, the manager of the Bailey Centre where unleaded and diesel were yesterday priced at 132.9 cents a litre, said customers were far from happy with the high prices but understood it was out of the hands of retailers.

"Our customers have been very accepting and appreciate that it is part of a worldwide phenomenon," he said.

"From what I can see, prices are going to keep heading up for a while yet, but hopefully it is a one-off spike that will soon stop."

The price of crude oil on world markets went above US$70 a barrel last week but has since slipped below $69.

The destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina in the US states along the oil-rich Gulf of Mexico is one of the major causes of the current record price highs.



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