Paying too much for fuel at the pump

FILLING up in Lismore was on average six cents a litre cheaper in 2014 than it was in Ballina - and the NRMA says motorists are still paying too much.

However, as prices decreased in the last six months, the gap between Lismore and Ballina dropped to less than three cents a litre.

Unleaded's average monthly price throughout 2014 in Ballina was 158.5 cents a litre and in Lismore it was just 152.3.

Ballina was among the most expensive places to buy fuel in northern NSW, and on average more than most Queensland cities as well.

However, an eight cent a litre average price drop in November saw Ballina motorists paying just 148.9 cents - around 10 cents below their yearly average.

But NRMA North Coast local director Wendy Machin said they should have dropped more.

"The wholesale price has dropped about 35 cents per litre in the last six months," Ms Machin said.

"Ballina and Lismore are down about 8 cents a litre in comparison to that."

She said while prices across the North Coast should be lower, the NRMA expected them to keep dropping.

"Ballina, Grafton and Lismore haven't fallen as much as we expected."

Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association chief Nic Moulis, who represents mid-sized service stations, said fuel operators deal with small margins and wholesale oil and taxes dictated prices.

"Around 130c of the price is the cost of refined fuel and tax," he said.

"Another around 16c would then be to operate the commercial site. So that might mean an actual margin of just four to six cents.

"Independents change the commercial framework in the market. They don't operate off such a formulaic model as the big oil companies. They're a lot closer to the community."

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