Data release to change the petrol price games

MOTORISTS will be able to track down petrol bowser bargains under a new deal ensuring they have the same access to petrol price information as retailers.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's agreement with market intelligence agency Informed Sources and petrol retailers BP, Caltex, Woolworths and 7-Eleven will make data available at the same time retailers access it.

The retailers currently exchange site-by-site petrol price information, covering most of Australia, every 15 or 30 minutes through the Informed Sources service.

The agreement follows Federal Court proceedings against Informed Sources and the retailers.

The data will also be available to consumer, motoring and research organisations.

"This will help consumers make better and more informed decisions about where and when to buy petrol by helping them identify the best time to buy and the sites with the lowest price," ACCC chairman Rod Sims said. "The ACCC believes that this will facilitate improved competition amongst petrol retailers."

Australian Automobile Association chief Michael Bradley said drivers would be on a level playing field with the retailers when choosing when and where to fill up.

"Motoring club members consistently list the cost of fuel as their top motoring affordability concern and the AAA has long campaigned for greater transparency in the fuel market and also greater equity regarding the provision of fuel price information," he said.

NRMA president Kyle Loades called the outcome a "historic win for motorists".

"The oil companies have historically shared this information among themselves, but it has never been available to the public," he said. "This too will be a game changer."

The result follows the NSW Government's announcement that service stations state-wide must display their prices in real time on the Fair Trading website.

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