How far is too far for fuel?

The petrol station at Hampden, north of Moeraki on State Highway 1, has closed.

There are fuel stops at Herbert and Maheno about 10 and 14 kilometres further north so it’s not too much further for travellers, but how long will petrol stations stay in very small towns?

When I stopped for fuel at a small town petrol station yesterday the owner told me that if he hadn’t recently put in new tanks he’d have been tempted to stop selling petrol and diesel and stick to servicing vehicles because the margins on fuel were hardly worth the trouble.

I’m training myself  to check the fuel gauge before leaving bigger towns on long journeys because it can be a long way to the next petrol station, especially outside business hours.

However, the training isn’t complete and I’ve been fortunate to find bowsers which enable you to pay by credit or Eftpos card which have saved me from running out of fuel late at night a couple of times.

Travellers not used to long distances between fuel stops could easily get caught short.

It’s also a problem is for people living in or near the small towns which no longer have fuel outlets. Some, particularly the elderly, do most of their driving within a relatively confined area of where they live and they’re forced to do a longer trip simply to refuel.

8 Responses to How far is too far for fuel?

  1. pmofnz says:

    The company GAS has come to the aid of local towns round here after such closures by big oil threatened the local communities.

    Norsewood and Eketahuna both have community run GAS pumps to stop the long refill round trips. Maybe Alf from ‘Eke could explain further about the pump in his town.

    Tararua District Council also assisted with the processes.


  2. Neil says:

    Surely this isn’t the kind of business that Rodney Hide sees as being non-core business!!!!!.
    Rodney Hide needs to get into the real world and see that councils advocate for “communities”, not just advocate for the richer section.


  3. Pique Oil says:

    GAS are an interesting beast. They are supplied by BP. What they do is they guarantee the payment to BP and thus are able to get a better deal through their combined size.
    Eketahuna is a remarkable story. When the servo burnt down the community got together and rebuilt it. It is community owned and has an operator working in it.
    The real problem is very simple.
    Oil cos decide what margin the servos get and they alone decide whether you go broke or not.Deals are done with favoured operators and not others. The “wholesale price” is nominal only
    They only want to deliver full loads so small sites in the country are a nuisance.
    The big four own 80% ish of the refinery, all the coastal shipping co. and many of the major sites.
    Prior to deregulation of the industry in 1988? the govt. of the day was warned that the end result would be that the market would be completely dominated by the offshore oil companies. Market forces idealogues (sycophantic morons) won the day and dereg occurred. I guess the idealogues will still say they were right.
    If rural people as a mass told their MP’s to fix it or they are gone, perhaps some action would occur, but I doubt it. Even a combined approach to Gull would be worthwhile. Gull is a family owned West Australian business that is at present active in the Nth Island only.
    The industry is in a crisis because market forces have been allowed to be skewed in favour of the oil cos.
    The people who suffer most are the small rural communities and the area they support.


  4. JC says:

    Don’t farmers have their own bowsers now? We used to live just 16km from town but found it a major advantage to have one just to keep away from the place.



  5. homepaddock says:

    Neil – are you suggesting councils should own petrol stations?

    JC – farmers usually have fuel tanks but people in wee towns and on lifestyle blocks don’t usually.


  6. Neil says:

    Homepaddock what I was saying is that councils should not own petrol stations, councils don’t do these actions at all well.Private enterprise does.
    What I am saying is that councils need to represent communities to retain an infrastructure that allows people to stay in communities they want to live in.Many of these towns have been in the past industrial centres but life has moved on technologically.
    Yesterday I was in a council meeting about providing transport for the elderly and low income from a town close to the major town of a territorial local authority.
    I don’t know if you know what it is like to live in a town with no banks,no ATM machines,grocers shops selling goods at a 20% surcharge, a decile one school etc.
    Someone has to got into bat for those people.


  7. Ed Snack says:

    Well, people are moaning because they have to pay the real cost of getting their fuel to them. Small service stations either charge enough to cover the costs, or go broke. What’s the problem ? If a community can invest in a GAS affiliated station, what’s to stop them ? Just don’t expect every other fuel user to subsidize you, simple.


  8. Pique Oil says:

    Ed, that may sound fine in theory, but the practice is that if you raise your retail price the oil co will raise its wholesale to you and you alone. Your margin is determined by the oil co.
    The commerce Commission feels that as this is a business to business arrangement, they cannot interfere in it.
    This applies throughout the country and is not isolated to rural areas.


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