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Escalating fuel price causing headaches -

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(generated from captions) achieved from the gathering But just what is likely to be is uncertain to US $67 a barrel with crude oil prices jumping back in the Gulf of Mexico as workers begin fleeing oil rigs heads their way. as another hurricane reports. Finance editor Emma Alberici

I think it's undeniable that the

margins are as high as they have

ever been. I think the major oil

companies are taking the

to increase their profits. companies are taking the opportunity

Everyone knows that the reason

petrol is dear in Australia now is Everyone knows that the reason that

that the world price of oil has

up, and that's been aggravated by that the world price of oil has gone

Hurricane Katrina. The ACCC has

said there is something fishy about

the gap between the crude oil price

and the price at the bowser for

petrol. The dollars on the petrol

gauge whipped by that much quicker

these days, but there is no

the extra $12 it now costs the these days, but there is no blurring

averages family each week to fill

the tank. Incidentally with the

price loaded with Government taxes,

that's twice as much as the

Government gave Australians in tax

cuts on 1 July. Motorists want to

know the answer why are they paying

so much? What the Federal

doing with the windfall ref so much? What the Federal Government

newspaper from sthait tax. What.

From the GST increase in fuel.

addition are the refiners doing with the From the GST increase in fuel. What

additional margins they're now

doing? Just weeks after Hurricane

Katrina lashed the Gulf of Mexico,

Rita, a sister storm is on the

attack. Forecasters are predicting

that it will develop into a major

hurricane that could strike Texas

wees wees by the end of the week. hurricane that could strike Texas or

Shell is the biggest oil producer

the region. We are a standard Shell is the biggest oil producer in

practice of closing our production

in, evacuating our staff and

for the hurricane to pass by, and in, evacuating our staff and waiting

then going back and safely

where needs to be repaired, and then going back and safely repairing

starting up production. Hurricane

Katrina knocked out 2 million

barrels a day of global crude

production, and 1.5 million barrels

a day of refined oil. The

disruption to supply pushed the

global oil price up to US $70 a

barrel. Tim Warren is the chairman

of Shell Australia. Certainly

Hurricane Katrina clearly

demonstrated that the surplus

capacity that there was in refining

in the '80s and '90s has

disappeared. Overnight, OPEC

decided to pump and extra 2 million

barrels a day, nearly at spare

production capacity. The 11-member

nations say they will only bring on

the new supply for three months

because they believe the world

market has more than enough oil and

that the real problem lies with the

refineries. There aren't enough of

them to deal with the demand for

refined product. Oh OPEC is

the oil majors for the high price refined product. Oh OPEC is blaming

petrol around the world, claiming the oil majors for the high price of

the refinery is withholding profits

that should be spent expanding

refinery capacity. We take

advantage of our margin, as I say,

which has to generate sufficient

profit to keep our shareholders

happy as well as generate the

investment that our refineries need,

and I would remind you that we have

recently invested $130 million in

our refineries to produce cleaner recently invested $130 million in

diesel. Tomorrow, the NRMA will

host a petrol summit to discuss the

issue of the spiralling price and

what can be done about it. Having

initially labelled the exercise a

pointless talk fest, Prime Minister

John Howard this morning confirm

that had a member of his government

would attend. None of the oil

companies have accepted the

invitation which has only

the motoring lobbies

the motoring lobbies suspicion invitation which has only heightened

the industry. It seems they move the motoring lobbies suspicion about

their prices altogether. From July

through to now we've seen an

increase in the gross margin from 5

had-odd cents to about 27 cents.

seems veried that they shift up and had-odd cents to about 27 cents. It

down at the same time and the

margins always seem to be the same.

So whilst I'm not saying there is

collusion, boy, there is some

coincidence there. Prices across

the country today are generally

below the $1.40 levels some cities the country today are generally well

were seeing last week, and while

everyone is still feeling the pain

motorists in Darwin are paying the everyone is still feeling the pain ,

highest price to fill a Fang at an

average of nearly $1.60 a litre.

Shell says that's made up of the 2.

cents it costs them to buy the fuel, Shell says that's made up of the 2.5

then there's almost 50 cents in

taxes made up of excise and GST and

the profit margin of 14 cents that

goes back to the oil country.

Brisbane enjoys the cheaps price in

the country because the tax

component is the lowest. The

Queensland Government's rebate of 5

cents a litre means faexs in the

Sunshine State are paying just shy

of $1.20 a litre. Shell say tls is

nothing fishy about their pricing

which is dictated by the price of

petrol in Singapore. I think the

other reason why I think the

is unfair is refining has been a other reason why I think the comment

very sighcly kal business in the

past. We're enjoying a rich year

this year, but we do need rich

occasionally to be able to afford this year, but we do need rich years

the investments that we're making,

as we are making in clean fuels for

Australia, and in fact in making

refineries more efficient. The Australia, and in fact in making our

should be mandated again to deal refineries more efficient. The ACCC

with the situation of independence,

to put downward pressure on the

price of fuel. The federal

Opposition has been attacking the

Government over petrol prices for

weeks, focusing on beefing up the

pricing powers of the Australian

competition Competition and Consumer Commission.

Hank Spier was the chief executive

of the ACCC during the last petrol

price inquiry in 1996. It was

useful in exploring the issues, it

was useful in getting the parties

together and bringing out views,

together and bringing out views, but I have to say, at the end of the

day, I don't think it really

achieved much. One of the

commission's main weapons against

rising fuel costs is its power to

prosecute petrol companies for

collusion. It's an area where

evidence is extremely hard to get

and there hasn't been any really

successful action against the big

oil majors. With economic growth

oil majors. With economic growth in China still averaging 7 to 9% a

year, strong demand for oil is

likely to continue to push up the

price, regardless of any

price, regardless of any disruptions to supply. Still, the oil majors

will be nervous as Hurricane Rita

looms as a potentially destructive

force in the already battered Gulf of Mexico. Emma Alberici with that report.

As Australian Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks faces his fourth anniversary in captivity,

his captors have decided to constitute a new military tribunal to hear charges against him related to alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.

The establishment of military commissions to deal with detainees rather than US civil courts or normal military justice procedures has been heavily criticised by international jurists and is still under challenge in the US Supreme Court. Three weeks ago, the Pentagon announced it would change commission procedures to conduct trials more like the judge-and-jury process of civil courts. The Pentagon had ordered a stay of Hicks' and other trials pending the outcome of the civil proceedings, but has now decided to press ahead with Hicks' case alone.