(Australian Associated Press)
Australian motorists could soon be paying an extra six cents per litre for petrol, as global markets reel from air strikes on Saudi oilfields.
As the US and Iran trade verbal barbs over the weekend’s drone attacks, consumer groups are beginning to brace for potential bowser pain.
Wholesale oil prices had already crept up by several cents in the lead-up to the strikes.
“We were preparing for that to get passed on to motorists,” NRMA spokesman Peter Khoury told AAP on Tuesday.
“Obviously then the incident occurred in Saudi Arabia.
“We’re monitoring it pretty closely to see what else happens, but so far it’s not good news.”
In the days since the attack, oil prices have spiked by about $8 a barrel.
This could see retail petrol prices increase by six cents per litre.
Surges in global oil prices usually take between seven to 10 days to be passed onto Australian drivers.
The drone strikes are expected to strip at least five per cent from global oil supplies.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne has condemned the attacks on Saudi oil infrastructure.
Senator Payne said the government is still trying to work out the implications for Australia.
Energy Minister Angus Taylor has said there is no immediate threat to Australia’s fuel supplies after the weekend’s attacks, with 90 days worth of reserves.
But Deputy Labor Leader Richard Marles has pointed out this included stock on-water, which could extend to fuel on ships on the other side of the world.
“I think explaining that Australia has a 90-day reserve is not an honest account,” he told ABC Radio.
“Right now, I think it is absolutely fair to say that the government has failed in this.”
Mr Marles argued there were genuine questions for the coalition to answer around fuel security.
“Right now, I don’t think there is any way in which you could honestly say that what we have in place at the moment meets those requirements,” he said.
President Donald Trump has declared the US is “locked and loaded” to respond to Iran’s alleged attacks on Saudi oilfields, while Tehran has responded with its own aggressive warning of a fully-fledged war.
“You can’t be anything other than anxious when you hear that kind of language,” Mr Marles said.
“I would note that there seems to have been a walking back from the brink in terms of the language of both sides overnight.”
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has called for calm in response to the rising tensions, urging the Australian business community not to overreact.