Prime Minister “Fleecer in chief”? Not quite Simon

Yesterday National Party Leader Simon Bridges named Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, the “Fleecer in chief”.

The comments came after Ms Ardern gave hints that the Labour Government is going to take steps to make oil companies stop gouging the consumer. Her comments were in response to a report being described as “landmark”, that suggests that the competition that is meant to exist between petroleum companies at the pump is not working as it should.

The facts are also not in Mr Bridges favour either. He might want to remember that the 5 largest oil companies in the world each make more revenue than the entire Gross Domestic Product (G.D.P.) of New Zealand does in a year:

  1. Royal Dutch Shell (Shell): U.S.$396.6 BILLION
  2. Sinopec: U.S.$314 BILLION
  3. British Petroleum: US$303.7 BILLION
  4. ExxonMobil: U.S.$279 BILLION
  5. Chevron U.S.$159 BILLION

Z, whose infrastructure was acquired from the departed Royal Dutch Shell (Shell), stated that it agrees with the findings of the Commission that there is room for improvement. Despite agreeing with the report its share price managed to fall 3%.

A host of smaller fuel players such as Gull, Challenge, among others exist in New Zealand. However the market is dominated by B.P., Z, Mobil and Caltex, who these smaller companies have to source their fuel from. They are the target of potential initiatives that will attempt to address the ease of supply for the smaller players.

One consistent problem that needs to be addressed, which neither oil companies or the Government seem keen on addressing is whether or not biofuel could become a potential alternative to petrol. New Zealand has a strong waste stream that includes considerable green waste as well as cooking oil/fat which could potentially form the basis of a blend. Whilst it is true that such a development would take significant time, if a low emission alternative to put in fuel tanks whilst we make the conversion to electric cars, should we not be looking to develop it?

Mr Bridges might also want to talk to Judith Collins. In February 2017 during her tenure as Minister of Energy Ms Collins savaged the continual price rises and launched a probe that was not completed before National left office following the 2017 General Election. In July of 2017, a report came out showing New Zealand had the highest petrol price of any country in the O.E.C.D. During the September school holidays that year Ms Collins launched another attack on petrol prices, noting that the Government was examining potential changes to Section 36 of the Commerce Act regarding the misuse of public power.

In October 2018, now as Spokesperson for Energy Ms Collins attacked the Government, which had introduced a regional fuel tax on Auckland to help fund its transportation network. At that point for every litre of petroleum sold, $1.25 went to the Government and $0.31 went to the fuel companies according to Ms Collins.


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