28 Nov 2017

Energy minister exploring fuel-price options

6:53 pm on 28 November 2017

The Energy Minister is flagging potential action on fuel prices which could include referring the matter to the Commerce Commission.

Megan Woods at the habour reopening in Kaikoura. 14 November 2017.

Energy Minister Megan Woods Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

The previous government commissioned an inquiry into fuel company margins and regional variations. A report received by then-Energy Minister Judith Collins in July found petrol pricing 'might not be reasonable'.

Her government announced new powers to enable the Commerce Commission to undertake a competition-specific fuel market study, backed by the ability to require comparable data across companies.

Officials have produced recommendations for further action, which have now been delivered to the current minister Megan Woods.

Ms Woods was asked whether the Commerce Commission could become involved.

"That is a live option," she said.

"There would have to be changes made to the Commerce Act for the Commerce Commission to do that market test.

The government was considering other options, she said, to start addressing from "the get-go" the fact that "if you live in Wellington or the South Island you're likely to be paying more for your fuel".

Ms Woods acknowledged motorists would be worried about fuel prices with Christmas holidays coming up, and any changes relating to the Commerce Commission were likely to take some time.

"So looking at what the more short- and medium-term options are, fundamentally this is about the evidence showing there are motorists out there paying over the odds for their petrol."

The officials' report would be released in the next few days, Ms Woods said.

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