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Opportunity for new Minister to stamp her mark

New Energy Minister Judith Collins must stamp her mark on the petrol retail sector by sending a very clear message that she will not tolerate any form of monopolistic behaviour that could end up costing New Zealand motorists money, says Labour’s Energy spokesman Stuart Nash.

“Earlier this year Z Energy purchased Caltex New Zealand in a move that gave Z a 50 per cent share of the New Zealand retail market. Even though this deal was approved by the Commerce Commission, it expressed misgivings on the grounds of lessening competition, and required Z to sell 22 stations as a condition of buying Caltex New Zealand.

“Now Caltex Australia (no relation to Caltex NZ) has announced it’s buying Gull’s New Zealand operations. This will give Caltex 77 retail sites and the Mt Maunganui distribution terminal, which is used to import fuel. At 90 million litres of storage, Mt Maunganui is a big terminal by New Zealand standards.

"The price of petrol matters for most Kiwi households. New Zealanders will want to be reassured that the Caltex-Gull deal, on top of the Z-Caltex one, adds up to a being a better deal for consumers, or at least that it won't reduce retail competition.

"Right now, no one can confidently say that consolidation on this scale is good for motorists.

"What I am seeking is assurances from Minister Collins that she will ensure healthy competition in the sector is maintained, and that she will come down very hard on any behaviour by retailers that risks reducing competition.

"With petrol now hitting $2 a litre following the cut back in oil production by OPEC and other producers, plus this consolidation in suppliers, it’s unlikely to add up to a much better deal for Kiwi households," says Stuart Nash.