THE first salvoes in Opotiki’s fuel price war have been fired.

Opotiki’s new Gull fuel outlet opened officially on Tuesday following soft openings for short periods on Monday, and the previous week, when it was testing its systems.

On its first official day of business, Gull ambassador Terina Maxwell said she had been busy with up to 90 vehicles an hour filling up.

Ms Maxwell is one of three Opotiki-based ambassadors who will work at the site for 12 weeks, helping customers get used to the procedures.

“There were originally four of us, but one didn’t want to work in the rain so I have taken on her shifts also,” she said. “After the 12-week period, one of us will be hired permanently.”

Ms Maxell said that unlike the Waitomo unmanned station, where a large sum needed to be available on an Eftpos card before a customer could fill up, the Gull station did not require this.

“You can have only $2 available on your card and still be able to buy fuel here,” she said.
“Somebody did that yesterday.”

Remarkable price fluctuations have taken place since Gull opened, making the “Gull effect” a tangible experience in Opotiki.

GULL Opotiki ambassador Terina Maxwell says the busy fuel station has at times served 90 vehicles an hour. Photo Sven Carlsson OS0110-03

The two Caltex stations have come into line with Gull, offering the same prices for both 91 octane and diesel.

Mobil has almost fallen in line, with a $0.04 price difference for petrol advertised on its price board yesterday and the same price for diesel.

The former leader of the pack, Waitomo at Waiotahe, has been left in the dust.

The outlier was charging $2.06 for 91 octane on both Tuesday and Wednesday, but had lowered the cost of diesel from $1.38 to $1.36.

Unfortunately for drivers, the price war is unlikely to continue long term.

“When Gull comes into a new place, they typically offer a price that’s 20 per cent below the market,” Caltex St John Street owner Lester Gray said.

“They also have staff at their site at the start, but neither they nor the price will be around forever.”

Mr Gray said the fuel prices at Caltex stations were predominantly set by Z Energy.

“When Gull comes to town, the prices will be lowered, which is what has happened in Opotiki also.”

He agreed being able to purchase fuel at a lower cost was a win for the community but if the manned petrol stations lost long-term support, there was the risk of job losses.

Mr Gray said the lowest price for petrol offered in Opotiki on Wednesday was with Caltex, when their new Pumped discount programme was taken into consideration.

“There’s an extra six cents off the price on the board with the new programme,” he said.

If just using the advertised points, there was no minimum amount the customer had to purchase.

“If you’re wanting to save the points, you have to fill for a minimum of $40 and you also get either FlyBuys or Airpoints in both cases.”

Accumulated points could be redeemed during a purchase of maximum 50 litres, the same as applied for the prior AA Smartfuel programme at Caltex.

“It’s coincidental that the new programme started when Gull came to town,” Mr Gray said.

Opotiki fuel prices from September 2018