There was a time when people complained that there seemed to be little if any difference between the prices charged by the various petrol companies in New Zealand.
Not these days.
Now there are quite wide variations in price.
The standard price for Unleaded 91 is $1.919 per litre. But it is selling for as little as $1.648 in Rotorua. There are also many stations selling it for between $1.70 and $1.79. This includes operators in Auckland, Hawke's Bay, Bay of Plenty and Northland.
It is selling for around $2.05 per litre on the West Coast and even more on Waiheke Island.
That means there is a price difference of around 50 cents between the most expensive and cheapest petrol in New Zealand.
The cheapest diesel price I could find was also in Rotorua. It was selling for just under 88 cents a litre yesterday.
That compares to the standard national price of just under $1.17.
It is selling for as much as $1.29 on the west coast. So that is a price gap of over 40 cents.
CHECK THE PRICE
The price of 95 petrol is typically 9 cents a litre more than 91. The 98 fuel usually costs 17 cents more than 91.
But here's a tip. Check the pump price before you fill up.
That is because sometimes petrol stations discount the 91 price but don't discount the premium fuel. People see the discounted 91 price on the large price board outside the station and assume the discount of 10 or 20 cents has been applied to the premium fuel as well.
So check the price on the pump itself.
Japanese cars typically take 91 fuel, while the European models generally use 95. A few cars require 98.
The Automobile Association says if your car takes 95 then you don't need to go to the added expense of filling up with 98.
THE OIL PRICE
US crude oil prices have plunged 5 percent to US$38 a barrel. That is a new six and a half year low.
The fall follows the OPEC nations' failure to agree on a plan to scale back production to support the price.
It sent the US share market down around one percent, with energy stocks losing around 4 percent.
Could this mean another cut to petrol prices in New Zealand?
It will help. But the New Zealand dollar has fallen as well overnight. It is down almost one and a half percent to 66.40 US cents.
The other complication is that New Zealand imports refined fuel rather than crude oil. Also, around half of the cost of a litre of petrol in New Zealand is made up of various taxes.
At 7-45am the Kiwi was trading at 66.50 US cents.
It had fared better against the Australian currency. It was down 0.35 percent to 91.47 cents.
The Kiwi was trading at 44.07 pence, down 1.23 percent.
It was 81.84 Japanese Yen and 61.30 Euro cents.