Thursday, 12 June 2008

Call for investigation of possible price gouging by oil companies

RAM - Residents Action Movement Media release 12 June 2008 Today's announcement by Caltex of a six cents rise in the price of standard petrol takes a litre to a sliver under $2.13. A company spokesperson blamed the latest price hike on rises in overseas oil prices. "I question Caltex's explanation for the price hike," says Roger Fowler, transport spokesperson for RAM - Residents Action Movement. "The price of a litre of standard petrol in New Zealand is 35% dearer than in the United States. Yet oil production in America is now a lower proportion of the country's total petrol needs than is the case in New Zealand. So how can NZ petrol be priced so much higher than over there?" "This throws grave doubt on Caltex putting all the blame on offshore price fluctuations. It does leave Caltex in New Zealand open to the charge that they are price gouging Kiwi drivers," said Roger Fowler. "I am writing to the Commerce Commission to ask them to investigate recent rises in NZ petrol prices and see if multinational oil companies are indeed price gouging us in New Zealand." "I will also be asking why oil extracted from NZ territorial waters is exported as crude, while more expensive oil is imported for the Whangarei refinery. On the surface, this appears to be a profit-making strategy for the oil companies which exposes New Zealand to serious oil security risks." "There does seem to be compelling reasons for an independent investigation of the whole operation of the oil industry in New Zealand. That investigation should have the power to make any recommendations that seem appropriate, including nationalisation of the oil industry if the multinationals are found to be price gouging and blocking development of the Whangarei refinery and they refuse to change their ways." "I will be raising issues like these as I campaign for RAM in the Manukau East electorate, where Kiwi battlers are struggling to fill up their cars and suffer from some of the region's worst bus services," said Roger Fowler. BACKGROUNDER: 1 gallon of petrol in the US = US$4 (see UK Guardian 11.6.08). 1 US gallon = 3.78541178 litres. This morning's exchange rate = US$1 for NZ$1.32 (see Yahoo currency exchange). For more information, contact: Roger Fowler RAM transport spokesperson & Manukau East candidate 021 2999 491

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