Tag Archives: price

Queenslanders face ‘huge’ power price hikes

Updated February 22, 2013 21:08:50

The Queensland Government says the latest electricity price rise is unacceptably high.

The average household power bill will rise by 21.4 per cent from July, or an extra $253 per year, with other household tariffs also going up by between 15 and 19 per cent.

Today’s announcement by the Queensland Competition Authority is only a draft, with a final decision due at the end of May.

The State Government froze the standard tariff for 12 months, but the competition regulator says higher network costs now have to be passed on

Treasurer Tim Nicholls says the Government is now looking at the draft ruling.

“What we’ve seen today in the draft determination by the Queensland Competition Authority is an unacceptably large price rise for electricity prices here in Queensland,” he said.

“This Government is determined to make sure that Queensland families are not kicked in the guts by this huge price rise.”

Treasurer Tim Nicholls blames an over-investment in infrastructure and “excessively generous” solar rebate and green energy schemes for the price rise.

He says he cannot do anything about it now, but can for the future.

The plan may include asking generators and distributors to absorb some of the increase.

“It’s particularly down to the Federal Government in relation to allowing their regulator to allow over investment in the network and not questioning the claims,” he said.

“Now we’ve started as a State Government questioning those claims and that’s why we’ve been able to remove from the Forward Estimates about $2 billion of costs from our companies – that will help in the future.”

Mr Nicholls says electricity network costs, which are regulated nationally, will account for about half of the price rise in Queensland.

He says spiralling network costs have not been brought under control.

“Network costs, which are regulated by the Australian Energy Regulator, will be about 50 per cent of the increase,” he said.

“This really just goes to show I think the failures over the last couple of years of the regulator to stop the gold-plating of networks and price-gouging of consumers.”

The Opposition’s Curtis Pitt says the LNP gave people “false hope” that they could bring electricity price rises under control.

“What we’ve seen today is another broken promise by the LNP,” he said.

“People have put their faith in them to address the cost of living. They said they were going to be able to handle these matters and quite simply they’ve made a promise they could never deliver on.”

Linda Parmenter from the Queensland Council of Social Service says low income earners will be hit hard.

“There’ll be more people who don’t pay their bills and end up being disconnected,” she said.

Topics: public-sector, electricity-energy-and-utilities, regulation, brisbane-4000, bundaberg-4670, cairns-4870, gladstone-4680, longreach-4730, mackay-4740, maroochydore-4558, mount-isa-4825, rockhampton-4700, southport-4215, toowoomba-4350, townsville-4810

First posted February 22, 2013 09:05:33

France Telecom looks to cuts for price war respite

00094PARIS: France Telecom predicted no let-up in a price war squeezing its home market and said it would focus on costs to return to cash-flow growth next year.

“The pressure on prices will be worse in 2013 than we thought,” chief financial officer Gervais Pellissier said on Wednesday.

“But we still aim for a slight improvement to operating free cash flow next year (2014), and since prices may not stabilise in France, we will work more on our cost structure to get there.”

Despite the turmoil in its home market sparked by low-cost mobile challenger Iliad, Europe’s fourth-largest telecom operator by revenue posted largely in-line fourth-quarter results and confirmed its 2013 cash-generation and dividend targets.

The group’s net profit for 2012 fell 79 percent to 820 million euros, hit by a 1.84 billion euro writedown on operations in Poland, Egypt, and Romania.

Poland is proving a particularly tough slog – former monopoly TPSA has seen mobile profit fall sharply and has promised cost cuts, but investors pummelled the shares after a recent dividend cut.

France Telecom’s stock fell on Monday to levels not seen since 2002 – when the group was on the verge of bankruptcy after a dot-com deal spree and needed a state bailout to recover. The stock was down 1.7 percent to 7.59 euros at 1314 GMT.

In France, average revenue per mobile user (ARPU) fell 10 percent to 336 euros last year, another sign of how much the market has changed since the arrival of Iliad’s Free Mobile low-cost, no-contract offers.

The company said ARPU in French mobile would declined “at least 10 percent” further this year.

Free Mobile, which launched in January 2012, had taken 6.4 percent of the market through the end of the third quarter.

In response, France Telecom, Vivendi’s SFR and Bouygues Telecom have lowered prices, pushed all-inclusive bundles of mobile, fixed, broadband and TV services to keep customers loyal and have began cutting costs.

Pellissier said the French business was counting on “quadruple-play” bundles to boost loyalty, as well as investing heavily in fourth-generation mobile networks and fibre broadband to offer better speeds and service.

“About 30 percent of our fixed customer base and 20 percent of the mobile base are on quad-play plans,” Pellissier added.

Copyright Reuters, 2013

Petrol price spike won’t last: commissioner

Posted February 19, 2013 11:40:01

Authorities say a sharp spike in the international price of fuel is to blame for higher prices at the pump across Victoria.

The petrol commissioner, Joe Dimasi, says the price of petrol in Singapore has reached a high of $US1.35 a barrel, representing an 11 cent per litre increase since December.

Mr Dimasi says it has resulted in most local outlets selling petrol for about $1.60 a litre.

However the high prices will not last too long.

“That should come down over the next week,” he told ABC local radio.

“If you can avoid buying it at $1.599, I’d certainly advise people to do that.”

Topics: consumer-finance, melbourne-3000

Food price increases lag house costs

  If food inflation had followed house price rises, a chicken might cost £50 If the price of food had risen as quickly as the price of houses over the last 40 years, we would now be paying more than £50 for a single chicken, according to the housing charity Shelter.

The charity says that since the early 1970s, house prices have risen far faster than grocery bills.

In 1971 an average home in Britain cost less than £6,000.

Forty years on, it had shot up to £245,000.

The figures, from the Office of National Statistics, suggest that houses are now 43 times more expensive than they were then.

Applying the same rate of inflation to food prices, Shelter says a chicken would now cost £51, and a four-pint bottle of milk would cost £10.

It says on average a family weekly shop would cost more than £450.

Unacceptable  Shelter says a four pint carton of milk would cost £10, if food inflation followed house prices

Shelter argues that such high food costs would be unacceptable.

“Yet when it comes to the huge rise in the cost of buying a home, somehow this is seen as normal,” said Shelter’s chief executive, Campbell Robb.

“The next generation will find it even tougher to find a stable and affordable home,” he said.

A recent poll for Shelter found that 59% of adults who don’t own a home believe they will never be able to afford to buy in the area where they live.

The report says that if food price inflation was as high as house price inflation, a leg of lamb would now cost £53, and a loaf of bread would cost more than £4.

Power price deregulation comes into effect

The South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS) has cautiously welcomed further deregulation of the electricity market that has come into effect today.

The state’s energy watchdog, the Essential Services Commission (ESCOSA), no longer has the power to control the standing contract price for electricity and gas.

In December, the Government announced it would allow default retailer AGL and Origin Energy to set prices, in return for AGL dropping legal action against the commission.

The State Government said the move would prompt fresh competition and lower prices, benefiting 130,000 AGL customers.

Greg Ogle from SACOSS says if prices do not drop, the Government should hand price regulation back to the commission.

“We’re keen for the Government to continue to monitor prices because if the price reductions aren’t delivered we’d like to see the Government step in again and re-regulate the market,” he said.

“There’s no doubt that energy prices are hurting a lot of people in South Australia, a lot of low-income households, and the deregulation and greater competition might deliver some lower prices but that’s not the end of the story.

Mr Ogle says the deregulation needs to be coupled with more support for those who are doing it tough.

“We know energy prices are a great driver of poverty so we’re pleased with anything that will lower energy prices,” he said.

“But we want to make sure that those price reductions are delivered across the board, not just to customers on standing contracts.”

Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis says the Government will intervene if power companies take unfair advantage.

“We do have the ability to re-regulate if we think that energy companies are beginning to price gouge,” he said.

“ESCOSA will maintain the role of an observer keeping a close watch on what the base price should be.

“If we think energy companies are profiteering to a point where they’re ripping people off, we’ll step back into the market.”

Mr Koutsantonis says AGL will now be forced to compete to retain its customers.

“This deregulation means that their customers are up for grabs, which means that every other energy retailer’s trying to get as many AGL customers to switch,” he said.

“That’s why you’ve been seeing full-page ads by AGL in the paper offering people to sign contracts offering up to a 9.1 per cent discount. A lot of their competitors are offering more.”

Topics: electricity-energy-and-utilities, consumer-protection, states-and-territories, sa, adelaide-5000

First posted February 01, 2013 09:53:49

Price of petrol ‘may go up 4p’

T petrol pump Motorists could be paying more for their petrol within days, the PRA has warned Fuel campaigners are warning that petrol prices might jump 4p per litre “in coming days”.

The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) said a “full review” of the wholesale fuel market was needed.

The AA said a review would help to tackle the “fuel industry’s treatment of drivers, consumers and businesses”.

Next week the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is due to report on whether reductions in the price of crude oil are being passed on to drivers.

The OFT is set to announce whether a full investigation of fuel prices is needed.

‘Help consumers’

The PRA said “despite recent arctic weather cutting fuel demand across northern Europe and refinery chiefs complaining at their glut of petrol capacity”, wholesale costs had risen by 5p per litre in the four weeks since Christmas.

Average prices at the pumps had gone up by around 1p – according to Experian Catalist figures – so drivers now faced another 4p per litre rise, it said.

PRA chairman Brian Madderson said: “The shock rise in wholesale costs is just one of the reasons why the Petrol Retailers’ Assocation has been knocking on the door of the Office for Fair Trading, since this time last year, to demand a full investigation into the workings of the UK market for road fuel”.

He said retailers across the country – who had already “been soaking up this increase” for motorists – would be forced to put their prices up over the coming days and weeks, with some already doing so.

Mr Madderson said: “Once again we are going to be accused of profiteering at the pumps when that is simply not true.”

He urged the OFT “to step out from the shadows and help consumers by conducting a full market study that will lift the veil of secrecy from the wholesale cost movements”.

Continue reading the main story
Another new year, another new round of pump price rises after the industry failed to pass on fully wholesale price savings. ”

End Quote Edmund King AA He also called on Chancellor George Osborne to abandon plans for a fuel duty rise in September 2013, “if fuel costs continue to rise”.


Motoring journalist Quentin Wilson said: “A 4p rise is going to be cataclysmic for motorists, for families, for businesses across the UK.

Mr Wilson, who is also a campaigner for Fair Fuel UK, said: “In some parts of the country we are seeing diesel as high as 148p so this will tip it over the psychological threshold of 150p…and it’s unsupportable.”

Meanwhile, the AA said drivers were again picking up rising petrol bills, with retailers often reluctant to pass on savings when the cost of petrol is falling.

AA president Edmund King said: “Another new year, another new round of pump price rises after the industry failed to pass on fully wholesale price savings.

“The Office of Fair Trading decides soon whether to launch an investigation into fuel prices, hopefully tackling the fuel industry’s treatment of drivers, consumers and businesses.”

He added: “The insight we are now getting on wholesale price movements rams home the need for this information to be out in the public domain immediately.

“Wholesale petrol prices turned upward in the first week of January, average pump prices six days later. If falls in wholesale were reflected as quickly, no-one would mind – but they’re not.”

The chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, Geoff Dunning, said increases in the cost of fuel affect the economy in two ways: “One is, obviously, for the person in the street when they’re buying fuel, they spend more on fuel and therefore can spend less on other things – on food, on clothes, on anything else – and the other effect is that the price of fuel affects the price of goods in the shop, because everything that’s delivered to the shop comes in a truck.”

Scots cities top house price list

for sale board The survey suggested four of the five cities that had the highest house price growth were in Scotland Continue reading the main storyRelated StoriesHome market confidence ‘growing’House prices ‘set to remain flat’House market optimism ‘returning’ House prices have risen faster in Aberdeen and Inverness than any other UK cities over the past decade, a survey has suggested.

The Bank of Scotland report said average prices rose by 94% in the Granite City between 2002 and 2012.

Inverness saw prices climb by 81%, with Dundee (+73%) and Perth (+70%) also featuring in the top five UK cities.

The bank said Aberdeen had particularly sharp increases because of the importance of the oil sector.

According to the survey, cities recorded higher house price growth than the UK average over the past 10 years.

Prices in cities increased by an average of 38%, from £125,276 in 2002 to £173,322 in 2012. This compared to a 29% rise for the UK as a whole.

Northern Irish cities Lisburn and Belfast had the smallest price rises over the last 10 years, up by just 2% and 3% respectively.

The bank said this largely reflected a substantial decline in house prices across Northern Ireland since 2007.

Ely and Southampton recorded the smallest increases in England, while Stirling (+35%) and Glasgow (+45%) experienced the lowest house price growth among cities in Scotland.

EU carbon price hits all-time low

The carbon market is central to Europe’s efforts to reduce C02 emissions The price of carbon hit a record low in Europe on Monday as the over-supply of emissions permits during the global economic downturn continued to undermine the carbon market.

The price fell below 4.8 euros in early trading, before recovering to above 5 euros by late afternoon.

Carbon permits are a mechanism designed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, as companies have to pay to emit C02.

A sharp drop in demand for energy has led to a massive oversupply of permits.

Critics of the EU’s Emissions Trading System also argue that the European Union issued too many permits in the first place.

The EU has proposed freezing up to 900 million permits to tackle this oversupply.

“There are too many permits because of the recession,” said Isaac Valero, spokesman for EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard.

The price of carbon recovered slightly on Monday after demand for an auction of 3.5 million permits was stronger than expected.

A weak carbon price undermines efforts to reduce C02 emissions.

The price of carbon needs to be a good deal higher than 5 euros – some believe between 25 and 30 euros – to provide an adequate incentive for companies to cut emissions and invest in cleaner technologies, experts say.

The carbon market is central to Europe’s efforts to meet its climate change target of a 20% reduction in C02 emissions from 1990 levels by 2020.

More power price rises flagged in Rio gas play

An independent industry analyst says Northern Territorians may face more power cost hikes if gas is diverted to the Rio Tinto alumina refinery on the Gove peninsula.

The Territory and Federal governments are in negotiations with the mining giant about supplying gas and building a pipeline to the refinery.

Rio Tinto wants the Federal Government to underwrite the cost of a $900 million gas pipeline to Nhulunbuy, more than 990 kilometres east of Darwin.

The company wants the Territory Government help arrange a supply of gas from the Blacktip gas field in the Bonaparte Basin of the Timor Sea, about 110 kilometres from the northern Australian coast.

The Blacktip field is wholly owned and operated by the Italian company ENI, which has a 25-year contract to supply the Territory’s Power and Water Corporation.

Power and Water provides power generation, transmission, and electricity retail services throughout the Territory.

The cost of electricity to domestic consumers has already risen by 30 per cent from the start of the year.

Rio Tinto has warned the Gove refinery, operated by its subsidiary Pacific Aluminium, may have to close if a cheaper energy supply can’t be secured.

The refinery now generates its power using diesel fuel.

Gas industry analyst Peter Strachan says a new deal to supply gas to Gove could see power costs rise again.

“I think it is inevitable they will go up,” he said.

“The costs of developing these fields have probably tripled over the last ten years, and getting $4 a gigajoule gas is a thing of the past.”

But Mr Strachan says while the deal may be bad news for consumers, it could prove a boon for gas suppliers.

“It means you’ve got a growing market,” he said.

“You’ve got a very rapidly expanding situation in the Northern Territory, all … wanting gas for industry and for power production.

“When the two meet, the prices will rise to attract more gas into that market.”

Territory Chief Minister Terry Mills, however, says he is determined to prevent power prices from increasing further as a consequence of securing a gas supply for Gove.

He says says the interests of Territory families are his priority in the discussions.

“Make no mistake about that, that is central in my thinking,” he said.

“We cannot disadvantage the Northern Territory in these negotiations.

“I don’t want any result to occur that increases the cost of electricity for Territorians.

“I am there to protect the interests of Territorians.”

Mr Mills has already said he feels he is being held to ransom in the talks with Rio Tinto, because the town of Nhulunbuy is almost totally dependent on the operations of the refinery.

Topics: government-and-politics, mining-industry, oil-and-gas, darwin-0800, nhulunbuy-0880

First posted January 17, 2013 12:56:23

Brisbane house price slump continues

Posted January 02, 2013 11:56:50

The latest figures from RP Data show house prices in Brisbane remained flat in December, while the median value of units fell.

The December price for Brisbane houses was $440,000, while unit prices fell 2.8 per cent for the month to a median of $363,000.

RP Data spokesman Cameron Kusher says median values in Brisbane remain below where they were five years ago.

“It seems as though the rate of decline is actually slowing,” he said.

“If we have a look back to December last year, Brisbane home prices were down about 7.5 per cent – maybe more than 7.5 per cent – so certainly conditions have improved.

“But we have still recorded back-to-back years in which homes values have fallen.”

Sydney remains Australia’s most expensive capital where median house price is $665,000, compared with $325,000 in Hobart, which is lowest-priced capital city.

Topics: housing, housing-industry, building-and-construction, urban-development-and-planning, brisbane-4000

Iron ore set to hold onto price gains

Posted January 03, 2013 13:56:15

Many commodity analysts are predicting a positive year for mining companies with the price of iron ore set to stabilise at relatively high levels.

The price of the steel making ingredient is currently around $US145 a tonne.

That may be well down on the $US190 it traded for almost two years ago, but it is much better than the $US87 a tonne it plunged to in September.

ANZ’s head of commodities Mark Pervan says the price has risen as a recovery takes hold in the Chinese economy.

He expects are fairly buoyant year for iron ore producers as that momentum continues.

“If it can sustain these gains, what it does is allow investors to think about more sustainability around expansion plans and profit growth,” he observed.

“So, at these levels, the margin ability in the iron ore industry is going to be very, very strong, so it will be a good outlook for the iron ore and bulk producers.”

Mr Pervan says the price of iron ore is unlikely to plunge back to the levels it hit last September now that there is more optimism about China’s economy, and should continue trading near current prices.

“China was manufacturing a slow down and of course they had the leadership change over. All of those sort of factors are passing so the leadership change over I think brings in a little more optimism,” he added.

“I think they’ll look to reignite a bit of growth next year, albeit it’ll be a steady outlook.

“On balance, the global market will be more encouraging than it was last year, so fundamentally better conditions this year than there were last year.”

Topics: business-economics-and-finance, economic-trends, iron-ore, australia, wa

Iron ore price rebound may be short lived

Resources analysts in Perth say the recent surge in the spot price of iron ore has been a shock.

Chinese spot iron ore prices have almost doubled from a low of around $US87 a tonne in September to $US156 a tonne overnight.

Restocking by China and a lack of supply from India are among the reasons for the price jump.

The major mining stocks like Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton have rebounded in line with the price increase for the steel making ingredient.

However, Patersons Securities resources analyst Tim McCormack says he does not think the gains will last.

“If you look back over the past three years, the March and June Quarters are traditionally quite strong and that follows by a dip in September,” he said.

“Our calendar year average this year is $US128 dollars currently. We’re well above that in terms of price at the moment, but we think that in the second to mid part of the year we’ll probably come back toward that average.”

Tim McCormack from Patersons says the price falls could be bigger if demand from China dries up.

“If stockpiles do reach near capacity again and there’s not a huge demand for steel – if there’s not the concerted Chinese stimulus that drives the demand for steel – then these stockpiles may get drawn down, and the price will relax like we saw in September and October last year.”

Topics: business-economics-and-finance, iron-ore, wa, australia

Has Christmas dinner price risen?

By Christine Jeavans BBC News The first snow has fallen and bookmakers have shortened their odds for a white Christmas. So far, so seasonal – but distinctly unusual weather conditions earlier in the year have raised the price of a traditional Christmas dinner.

It has been a Goldilocks year for British farmers, with the weather so wet at home that vegetable yields have been crippled, yet so dry in other parts of the world that imported animal feeds have jumped in price.

Now the effect is starting to be seen on British supermarket shelves.

The latest official inflation figures reveal food prices are rising at 3.9%, faster than overall goods and services.

So will this year’s Christmas meal gobble up your seasonal budget?

For many, this is the highlight of the Christmas table and it is also the single most expensive item.


In the run up to Christmas 2011, Britain spent £113.5m on eight million birds, according to retail analysts Kantar Worldpanel.

British turkeys are fed on wheat and soya, both of which jumped in price in the middle of 2012, due to the worst droughts for decades in the USA, South America, Russia and Black Sea states.

Meanwhile, UK-grown wheat has suffered badly in the wettest summer for 100 years.

“It’s tough this year for farmers,” observes the National Farmers Union’s Chris Dickinson, who says feed accounts for 60% of the cost of producing a bird.

“They can’t cut back on feed because you don’t want to compromise quality or bird welfare.”

With Christmas such an important time for food farmers and retailers, it seems increased production costs are not being fully passed on to the consumer, at least where turkey is concerned.

Official inflation figures show that the price of turkey steaks has risen 11% in a year, and research carried out for the BBC by price monitors Mintec found the wholesale price of turkey had gone up by 4%.

But the supermarket price of whole birds appears to be largely static across the major retailers, with Tesco saying it had set its prices earlier in the year.

“The fierce competition to secure Christmas spending should shield customers from the full impact of rising costs,” says Stephen Robertson, director general of the British Retail Consortium.

So much for the turkey, what about the trimmings?

The nation’s children may cheer to find their parents scrimping on Brussels sprouts this year.

Although the Office for National Statistics does not track the diminutive brassica’s price throughout the year, research carried out for trade magazine The Grocer found that the price for loose sprouts had jumped from £1.69 per kg last year to £2.10 now – an increase of 24%.

The wet weather has led to falling yields, according to Matthew Rawson of the Brassica Growers Association, himself a sprout producer.

“Getting these little green gems of joy onto your plate is going to be a lot harder this year,” Mr Rawson says.

Sprout farmer Martin Tate on the pressure of the Christmas rush

“We’ve had horrible weather to contend with, sprouts were not planted into ideal conditions, and then with waterlogged soil in July and August they didn’t get the root development.

“This meant smaller leaves and we had less photosynthesis – they have been growing with the handbrake on.”

Nevertheless, Mr Rawson insists that despite the low yield, growers will be working around the clock to satisfy the Christmas demand, which makes up a third of annual sprout sales.

Supermarkets, meanwhile, have widened the acceptable size range of the vegetable in order to “maximize every sprout”.

The price of old potatoes, essential for those fluffy roasties, has shot up by 43% in the last year to 86p per kg, according to official November inflation statistics.

Farmers of the humble spud have had a difficult year. An early drought followed by the wettest summer since 1912 have led to poor growing conditions and a tricky harvest.

The Potato Council says it is the worst harvest since 1976 with yield down 15%, but rising costs as waterlogged ground has made for slow picking.

The small harvest has raised the trade price on the open market by 176% when compared with last year, a spokeswoman says, adding that consumers will find smaller potatoes than usual.

Lovers of other root vegetables will also have to dig deeper into their pockets this year, with the price of carrots up by 44% since last November.

“Pigs in blankets”, sausage-meat stuffing, and maybe a gammon joint on Christmas Eve – pork products have high billing on the Yuletide menu.

Pigs feeding

As with turkeys, the price of pig feed has risen as a result of drought abroad and high rainfall at home.

These and other factors have led the National Pig Association to warn of a “worldwide bacon shortage” in 2013.

The UK imports 29,000 tonnes of pork a month and the European Union price has been pushed up to a three-year high as farmers cut their herds ahead of new welfare regulations in January.

But so far this year, sausage prices have only risen 2% while back bacon prices have stayed level according to official figures.

Richard Longthorp, chairman of the National Pig Association, says rising costs would force some producers out of business, but the knock-on effect would take 10 months to emerge.

“I wish it wasn’t the case for the consumer’s sake, but I think there will be a greater increase in pork price in Christmas 2013 as the shortages feed through,” he says.

It is one of the little extras that makes Christmas dinner special, but the price of a key ingredient of bread sauce – a white sliced loaf – has already jumped 12% this year and is likely to keep on rising.

Wheat field

This year’s British wheat crop was the poorest since 1977 and the UK is forecast to become a net importer of the grain in 2012-13, the Home-Grown Cereals Authority says.

Bakers are already warning that they are facing a 13% increase in the price of flour, some of which will be passed on to the consumer.

“We have taken a flour increase of £50 a tonne. At the end of the day, the manufacturer can’t sustain that kind of increase,” says the National Association of Master Bakers’ chairman, Mike Holling.

“What we are seeing at the moment, even in the supermarkets, is a 400g loaf having to go up by 5p and an 800g can go up by 10p.”

If all this makes you reach for the booze (up 1.4%) then take some cheer: the dried fruit in your Christmas pudding is almost exactly the same price as it was a year ago, tangerine prices are steady and butter has softened in price.

Sadly, the price of chocolate coins is not tracked.

New Cayman is 75 per cent of a 911 at half the price

New Cayman Image Credit: Supplied pictureThe new Cayman is — after the 911 Carrera and Boxster — the third sportscar model line from Porsche to feature innovative lightweight body design. Image 1 of 3123

We’re busy having shouting matches almost every day at the wheels office lately. It happens every year around about this time, the name calling, the blackmailing, the spitball ambushing…

And it’s all because wheels Car of the Year 2012 is right around the corner, and your wheels team together with our regular gang of contributors can’t stop arguing about what’s awesome and what’s rubbish.

Well, actually, the extreme ends of the spectrum we can agree on — it’s the stuff in the middle that necessitates closer scrutiny, or in our case, Yo Mama jokes. Even in this time of office warfare, the wheels team is mature enough to call a momentary ceasefire and agree on some undisputed facts such as, the Porsche Boxster is darn awesome.

And that fact makes us extremely excited about our sportscar-driving prospects for 2013, because Porsche has just announced a tin-top Boxster, which you may know as the Cayman. This third-generation coupé sportscar was just launched at the Los Angeles auto show last week, promising less weight coupled with a stiffer chassis, more efficiency from its flat-six engine range, a buy-it-now price and, most importantly, good looks.

Article continues below

Let’s get to the best bit first, which is that the base Cayman will start from Dh200K in the GCC, while the Cayman S kicks off from Dh227,500 — you can order yours today, rubbing your hands with glee until the April 2013 delivery date.

As a completely re-developed coupé, the latest Cayman is both lower and longer than before, but crucially also up to 30kg lighter with a 40 per cent stiffer body. The wheelbase is additionally also longer, and coupled to a wider track and bigger wheels, it should easily scare plenty of 911s on the winding road.

A longer wheelbase, wider track and larger wheels enhance the performance of the mid-engine sports car to an unparalleled level in its competitive class. The new Cayman is — after the 911 Carrera and Boxster — the third sportscar model line from Porsche to feature innovative lightweight body design.

The new generation is up to 30kg lighter, depending on the specific model and equipment, and consumes up to 15 per cent less fuel per 100km than the previous model — despite higher engine and driving performance.

Porsche is also quick to point out the Cayman’s economical virtues, with 15 per cent less fuel usage despite higher performance from the base 2.7-litre 275bhp engine, and the Cayman S 3.4-litre 325bhp flat-six. The former sprints from 0-100kph in 5.4 seconds and reaches a top speed of 266kph, while the latter does the acceleration run in 4.7 seconds and tops out at 283kph.

If you spec your Cayman S with Porsche’s double-clutch PDK instead of a six-speed manual, and let’s face it, you will, then you’ll also see economy figures of around 8.0 litres-per-100km — don’t laugh, we actually experienced that in the Boxster S.

Of course, those affordable starting prices hide some nasty surprises, mainly that the cars come in bare-bones trim. Porsche, however, has added more optional equipment to make your decisions easier (and costlier), so the Cayman is now available with adaptive cruise control for the first time, a specially developed Burmester sound system, and a keyless Entry & Drive system.

All this sounds to us like we’re possibly in for fewer shouting matches in the wheels office, come the 2013 awards for the best sports coupé.

Global pressures blamed for petrol price record

Posted December 06, 2012 17:53:14

The competition regulator says global factors caused Australia’s petrol price to climb to a new high last financial year.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) annual petrol price report says fuel prices in capital cities jumped to a yearly average of 143 cents per litre in 2011-12.

Regional petrol prices were on average up to six cents a litre higher than in the capital cities.

ACCC commissioner Joe Dimasi says Australia’s petrol prices are in line with global prices and are still among the lowest in the OECD.

Australia has some of the lowest fuel taxes in developed world with only Canada, the United States and Mexico having lower taxes.

“These are the highest prices that we have seen for the year as a whole and I think you can say that for the world generally,” he said.

Mr Dimasi said unrest in oil-producing Middle East and Libya was one of the reasons for the price rise.

“The uncertainty and volatility in the Middle East kept prices high, but also we are moving to more costly sources of oil,” he said.

“For example, the shale oil that we see in the US and the deepwater oil that’s being extracted, those costs keep pushing the prices up right around the world.”

The report found that over the past decade, the average retail price – excluding taxes and subsidies – had risen by around 120 per cent.

Topics: oil-and-gas, economic-trends, australia

COAG signs on to PM’s power price plan

Updated December 07, 2012 19:52:31

Federal and state leaders have agreed on a plan aimed at curbing power price rises, which Prime Minister Julia Gillard says will save households about $250 a year once it is fully implemented.

The agreement, reached during today’s Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting, does not involve the mandatory rollout of so-called smart meters.

But Ms Gillard says all states have agreed to work on options for more flexible pricing.

“We will be working with consumers to give them more options and choices about how they consumer their power,” she told reporters in Canberra.

“We will be introducing rewards into the system so that big users, big businesses can moderate power loads that they put on the system during peak times.

“We will be addressing the gold-plating of the system and overinvestment in the poles and wires.”

As part of efforts aimed at reducing the “perverse incentive” to overinvest in transmission lines, the Commonwealth has committed an extra $23 million to boost the resources of the Australian Energy Regulator (AER).

But some state leaders have already criticised the plan, with Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu expressing disappointment the changes to the AER do not go further.

“The Commonwealth declined to commit to an independent Australian Energy Regulator which means Victorians and Australians face the prospect of sub-optimal regulatory decisions,” he said.

“This will increase pressure on energy prices for Victorian families and businesses.”

West Australian Premier Colin Barnett is not convinced the plan will deliver the promised savings.

“Well there is agreement to reform it (the energy market),” he told ABC News 24.

“Whether that will provide price relief, I doubt. Maybe it will mean price increases in the future won’t be as great.”

Ms Gillard says the $250 savings estimate is based on a report by the Productivity Commission, although she concedes today’s agreement differs from that document.

The Commission’s estimate was based on a scenario where households would be required to have a smart meter.

As expected, the COAG meeting also finalised agreements for National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) launch sites.

Five states have agreed to host the sites – New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT – which are due to begin mid-next year.

Yesterday, Ms Gillard announced an agreement with the NSW Government for the full rollout of the scheme from 2018, saying it would act as the benchmark for other states.

Asked when Victoria might sign up to the full rollout, Mr Baillieu said: “We’ll continue to work with the Commonwealth and other jurisdictions on a sustainable outcome for the long term.”

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said he believed it would be at least two more years before his state could afford to pay its share of the NDIS. 

The leaders also discussed the terms of reference for the royal commission into child sexual abuse, with the Commonwealth agreeing to pay the total cost of the inquiry.

Ms Gillard says even though the commission will be established under federal law, the states have agreed to formally cooperate with the investigation.

“There is a predisposition by first ministers here to issues Letter Patent,” Ms Gillard said.

“What that means is that the powers of the Federal Government can be bolstered by the powers of state governments.

“So that would give the royal commission that the Federal Government is creating the maximum legal power and backdrop to get about its work.”

All leaders reiterated their support for changing the rules for royal succession to remove discrimination on the basis of gender or religion, but there has not been uniform agreement on how to do it.

Queensland is holding out on handing over its powers to the Commonwealth to make the change, believing there is another way of achieving the goal.

“Our view is that we will pass legislation in accordance with our position as a separate, sovereign state,” Mr Newman said.

“We’re a federation of states – we’re going to do it the right way, the proper way.”

At that point, the Prime Minister responded to Mr Newman’s comments, saying the Federal Government had received clear legal advice on the issue.

“There is one crown in Australia… and that the way in which we should deal with this, the most legally effective way to deal with it, is that states would pass legislation referring to the Commonwealth the ability to make these changes to succession,” she said.

“For that to be a legally effective process, all states have to do it. If one state doesn’t do it, then it doesn’t work.”

The Federal Government’s proposed overhaul of school funding was also discussed, but the leaders deferred detailed discussions on the matter until next year.

Under the plan recommended by the Gonski report, each school would be given a base level of funding per student, with extra loadings to compensate for disadvantage.

It is fanciful to expect that this reform will be agreed in April 2013 if the Commonwealth continues to refuse to discuss the proposed funding.

Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu

Mr Baillieu said he was disappointed there had not been any “meaningful” discussion about the plan at today’s gathering.

“It is fanciful to expect that this reform will be agreed in April 2013 if the Commonwealth continues to refuse to discuss the proposed funding,” he said in a statement.

Ms Gillard has previously said she wanted to reach a final agreement with the states by the first COAG meeting next year.

Topics: federal—state-issues, federal-government, government-and-politics, electricity-energy-and-utilities, australia, wa, nsw, tas, qld, act, sa, vic

First posted December 07, 2012 16:51:10

Conroy defends wireless technology reserve price

Updated December 15, 2012 12:09:08

The Federal Government is facing accusations it is auctioning off wireless spectrum to mobile phone companies at inflated prices to bolster its ailing finances.

Last month Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy stepped in and took away the power to set the reserve price of the auction from the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA).

Senator Conroy yesterday revealed he had set the floor price for the 700 megahertz spectrum at $1.36 per megahertz per population.

AM understands the Federal Government is hoping to net between $2.5 billion and $4 billion this financial year by auctioning off the wireless spectrum, which was freed up through the switchover from analogue to digital television broadcasts.

Optus has raised its concerns, saying the floor price is unworkable and double that of auctions for comparable spectrum in other developed economies.

The company’s senior management is understood to be in talks this weekend.

Vodafone has already exited the race by declaring it would not participate in the auction under the current terms.

Telstra says it is considering the announcement in detail as part of its auction strategy.

In releasing the floor price details, Senator Conroy argued the high quality spectrum is equivalent to “waterfront property” and the price will ensure a reasonable return on the investment.

He said he expected a competitive bidding environment for the sale, which will be held in April next year.

The only conclusion … is that [The Government] knows that this is its only chance of getting a surplus in the budget this year.

Malcolm Turnbull on the spectrum auction
Listen to the interview

But Opposition Communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull says the Government’s high price is being driven by politics and not policy.

“Why is the Government spending tens and tens of billions of dollars to subsidise fixed-line broadband in its fibre to the premises NBN rollout and yet at the same time is seeking to extract the maximum dollar from the industry and, eventually, the public, from the sale of wireless spectrum?” he said.

“The only conclusion for that can be is that it knows that this is its only chance of getting a surplus in the budget this year.

“This is being driven, not by policy, but by politics.”

Mr Turnbull says the auction will be a dud if Optus decides to follow Vodafone and pull out of the bidding.

“If the auction process fails, because only one person turns up, or only one person is left standing, then that is just a complete debacle, that would be yet another policy failure by Stephen Conroy,” he said.

Mr Turnbull says the sale of the spectrum is important for both taxpayers and the telecommunications industry.

“The Government’s got to make sure it gets a fair buck for the taxpayer, but it’s also got to make sure that there’s a competitive market,” he said.

He says if telcos are forced to spend more money to buy the spectrum they may decide to charge unaffordable prices for consumers, and this problem would be compounded if only one telco bids.

“If there’s no competition, there is absolutely no barrier to very high prices being charged [for consumers],” he said.

Topics: telecommunications, television-broadcasting, government-and-politics, federal-government, mobile-phones, australia

First posted December 15, 2012 11:59:51

Federal-state relations threaten power price action

Updated December 04, 2012 14:34:49

The head of COAG’s Reform Council says energy market reforms are at risk of being undermined by a growing level of suspicion between the Commonwealth and the states.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard is ramping up pressure on state premiers ahead of their meeting on Friday, urging them to agree to a range of changes aimed at bringing down power prices.

But state and territory leaders are calling for more details before signing up to any new arrangements at this week’s Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting.

We asked our readers if they thought an agreement would be reached. Read their comments.

COAG Reform Council chairman Paul McClintock says there has been a disappointing level of commitment to energy market reforms, which he believes is linked to broader problems facing the future of federation.

“It’ll be interesting to look at how the energy issue is faced this coming week,” he said.

“I think [it will] depend a lot upon whether there is trust between the various members of COAG to actually say ‘this is something we can do together’, or people are going to play politics with this and consequently ‘I’m just not prepared to expose myself and commit myself to the uncertainties of a cooperative approach’.”

The Commonwealth wants to put an end to the “perverse incentive” to overinvest in poles and wires, and give consumers more access to information about their electricity usage through the installation of so-called smart meters.

In 2007, federal and state leaders endorsed the national rollout of smart meters after initial trials were carried out.

However, according to the latest COAG Reform Council report released today, key milestones for the installation of smart meters have not been met.

“The agreement to roll out smart meters was always subject to agreed cost-benefit analysis, and that remains the case,” Mr McClintock said.

“Personally, I felt that the case for smart meters could have been made out better than it has been.

“Smart meters have not been effectively sold as a way of actually reducing energy consumption.

“Some of the restrictions that were put around smart meters, which restricted the individual’s ability to actually know what was going on and adjust their behaviour, meant that the program has never been seen in the community’s mind as strongly linked to energy saving.”

There has been a long period where there has been a growing level of suspicion between the governments as to whether there is a real commitment to working together.

The latest report card from the COAG Reform Council marks the end of Mr McClintock’s six-year tenure as chairman.

He has used the occasion to deliver a strong warning about the future of Commonwealth-state relations, arguing the way COAG operates needs to be reinvigorated or its reform agenda will fail.

“There has been a long period where there has been a growing level of suspicion between the governments as to whether there is a real commitment to working together,” Mr McClintock said.

“We are at a bit of a crossroads. Australians are losing faith – quickly, actually – in the ability of governments to work together.

“Really, we should stand back and say, this isn’t good enough, and this is a major issue for our nation as a whole.

“This is not a debate about cooperative versus competitive federalism… it’s really about effective federalism.”

Mr McClintock says there is a growing number of issues where there is an overlap in responsibilities between the Commonwealth and the states, and this has led to a greater level of competition between the two levels of government.

Topics: federal—state-issues, government-and-politics, federal-government, states-and-territories, electricity-energy-and-utilities, australia

First posted December 04, 2012 06:36:58

States want more details on power price plan

Updated December 03, 2012 14:35:09

State and territory leaders are calling for more details before signing up to the Federal Government’s plan to cut electricity bills.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard says her reform package will save consumers $250 per year on their power bills.

She is hoping to reach an agreement on the plan at a COAG meeting of state and territory leaders on Friday.

Ms Gillard wants to give more funding to the national energy regulator, and set up new consumer groups to keep power prices down.

Victorian Energy Minister Michael O’Brien says some of the proposals look worthwhile, but the industry watchdog needs more power.

“The Australian Energy Regulator is in a constant battle for resources, both financial and personnel,” he said.

New South Wales Minister Katrina Hodkinson says the states are already looking at ways of pushing power prices down.

“I think the best things they could do is abolish the green schemes and abolish the carbon tax,” she said.

Ms Gillard is pushing for the roll out of smart meters, but Queensland Energy Minister Mark McArdle is making no commitments.

“I call upon the Prime Minister to release all costings in relation to her claim as to how these prices are going to be driven down and more importantly, when prices will fall,” he said.

We asked our readers if they thought the energy regulator should be given more power to influence power prices. Read what they had to say.

The Federal Coalition dismissed yesterday’s announcement as a stunt, but says the energy sector does need to be deregulated.

John Pierce, the chairman of the Australian Energy Market Commission, wants to see the states and Commonwealth agree to changes to the way electricity is priced to allow consumers to get a better deal.

“This Friday’s meeting is an opportunity to make some substantial reforms and an opportunity that only comes around almost once a decade,” he said.

“Really [it's] about putting the consumers in a position so that they can be better informed about what sort of options are available to them and what sort of decisions they can make in their position, so that in a way that’s easy for them to make decisions about how to use electricity.”

The Prime Minister also has the backing of a prominent think-tank, the Grattan Institute, which has released a report on how to reduce energy prices.

The institute’s energy program director, Tony Wood, says the regulator needs to be better equipped to determine the profits of energy network monopolies.

“The regulator does need to be given more direct power and more incentive to tighten up the way in which these businesses have been allowed to charge prices to customers which have probably moved too far in favour of the investor and too far away from the interest of customers,” he said.

Mr Wood’s report shows fixing the regulatory system could save $2.2 billion a year, which would save the average household about $100.

He praises the Australian Energy Market Commission’s recent move to give the regulator more power, but says more must be done.

“The governments together – and this has to be done by both the federal and the state government – they need to hold the regulator accountable for delivering a much better result in the interests, and the long-term interests, of consumers,” he said.

The chief executive of the Energy Networks Association, Malcolm Roberts, agrees power bills have risen steeply, but says the increases are justified.

“We look at the different factors that have been pushing up network costs, that’s the higher cost of capital thanks to global financial crisis, the need to replace ageing assets, particularly in New South Wales and Queensland, so we’re going through a bit of an investment peak,” he said.

“There’s the continuing need to build extra capacity to meet peak demand. It’s too simplistic to suggest that high network costs reflect just some argument about regulatory failure.”

Topics: electricity-energy-and-utilities, industry, business-economics-and-finance, federal—state-issues, federal-government, states-and-territories, government-and-politics, australia, nsw, vic

First posted December 03, 2012 06:30:28

Federal Government announces power price plan

Updated December 02, 2012 14:34:17

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced a plan she says will reduce household power price increases from 2014.

The announcement is aimed at pressuring states and territories to take action on power price rises.

Ms Gillard says her plan will stop the so-called “gold plating” of electricity networks, allow for a stronger industry regulator and the creation of two new consumer bodies.

“I want to fight for a better deal for Australian families on power prices,” she said.

Ms Gillard says consumers would save up to $250 per year on their power bills under the plan.

“At the moment there are some real problems with the way our electricity pricing works,” she said.

“Overinvestment in the poles and wires – that costs families a lot.

“I want to make sure we’re making a difference for families.

“We have been working hard through energy ministers on the plan. Now is the time to get it done.”

The plan would introduce cost reflective pricing, meaning electricity will be cheaper at non-peak times.

Opposition Environment spokesman Greg Hunt says the plan will penalise households using power in the early evening.

“I think we have to be very cautious about driving up power prices for families,” he said.

“If the Prime Minister’s solution is ‘we’ll give you a carbon tax to increase your power prices and then we’ll increase power prices at dinner time’, then I think we ought to know that today.”

The plan will be put to the state and territory leaders at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in Canberra on Friday.

Queensland Energy Minister Mark McArdle says he is yet to see any details from the Federal Government.

“We haven’t even seen the plan, we’ve seen no details whatsoever,” he said.

“We have not got data and documentation from the Prime Minister, we have got skeletal ideas and concepts.

“I want to have her release all data, all documents, and all costings to indicate how it’s going to happen. The devil is in the detail in this matter.”

Topics: electricity-energy-and-utilities, federal—state-issues, federal-government, australia

First posted December 02, 2012 13:11:57

Melbourne home price slide offsets gains elsewhere

Updated December 03, 2012 13:38:36

Melbourne has dragged down the nation’s home price performance in November, leaving the national market flat overall.

RP Data – Rismark’s Home Value Index was unchanged for November, with a 1 per cent fall in Melbourne values offsetting modest to strong gains in the other capital cities.

Canberra (1.3 per cent), Darwin (1.1 per cent) and Perth (1 per cent) recorded the best gains, with Brisbane and Adelaide also up 0.5 per cent.

Sydney recorded a tepid 0.1 per cent gain which, combined with the steep fall in the nation’s second biggest housing market, left the index flat overall.

Hobart home prices also rose just 0.1 per cent, to be down 7 per cent over the past year.

While the national capital city home price index is down 0.1 per cent over the year to November, that has been driven mostly by a 2.5 per cent fall in Melbourne, and even steeper declines in Adelaide and Hobart.

RP Data’s senior research analyst Cameron Kusher says it looks like some markets have hit the bottom of their price cycles.

“Melbourne perhaps hasn’t bottomed, but markets which have been under-performing for a long period of time, like Sydney, like Brisbane, like Perth, certainly do appear to have reached the bottom and each of those cities has actually seen values now increase over the last 12 months,” he said.

“So, broadly speaking, I think we’re pretty close or at the bottom of the housing market.”

He says it is those cities that performed best during 2009 and 2010, particularly Melbourne, that are likely to show continued weakness, even as other markets pick up.

“Home values in Brisbane and Perth remain below where they were five years ago, whereas the other mainland cities have all increased over this period,” he noted in the report.

“This has meant that, relative to the other capital cities, Brisbane and Perth have experienced affordability improvements and subsequently we may see them become more popular from both an owner-occupation and investment perspective.”

Topics: business-economics-and-finance, economic-trends, housing-industry, money-and-monetary-policy, australia, vic

First posted December 03, 2012 11:05:23

Consumers confront retailers about water price hike

Updated December 03, 2012 20:41:36

Angry Melbourne consumers have confronted the city’s water retailers about their soaring bills at a public forum.

Average household water bills will jump by nearly $300 next year, mostly to cover costs relating to the Wonthaggi desalination plant.

Retailers are reluctant to spread the rise over five years, because they say that would force them to borrow money to balance their books.

Yarra Valley Water’s managing director Tony Kelly says the company decided it was best to increase charges in one big hit.

“The majority of customers said, ‘look we want to get the pain out of the way’,” he said.

“We looked at trying to smooth it over a longer period of time.

“The difficulty with that is we would have to borrow in the short term to cover the shortfall, and by the end of the five-year price period, the price is actually higher.”

Melbourne Water’s managing director Shaun Cox says it would also have to borrow cover a shortfall.

“We did contemplate options of not matching the revenue and the costs, and that means that there’s actually then a revenue shortfall that has to be paid for by way of borrowing additional funds,” he said.

The retailers have promised more help to the thousands of customers who are already on hardship payment plans.

But customer Mario Pallotta says struggling householders should not have to deal with such a big jump in their bills.

“It’s such a huge increase you’ll find that if this had happened in other countries, especially like in Europe, especially like Greece, they’d probably riot over something like this,” he said.

Tony Kelly says water retailers know low income families will be hit hard.

“The price rise next year of 33.7 per cent is a dramatic price rise, there is no doubt about that,” he said.

“We are very conscious of the impact that will have on vulnerable customers in the community, we are putting in place a number of programs to try and ease the pain.

“We are going to develop a smooth pay product to enable customers to pay on a weekly, fortnightly, or monthly basis.”

The Essential Services Commission is assessing the water retailers’ five-year plans.

It will make its final decision on water prices next June.

Topics: water-management, business-economics-and-finance, melbourne-3000, wonthaggi-3995

First posted December 03, 2012 20:24:16

Premier backs power price plan

Updated December 03, 2012 10:25:58

The Tasmanian Premier says the state’s publicly-run electricity network has protected consumers from the price hikes seen interstate.

The Prime Minister wants to set up two new consumer bodies and cut power bills by reducing over-investment in electricity networks.

Julia Gillard says the changes would also allow for a stronger industry regulator.

The Tasmanian Premier says the federal plans will have less of an effect in Tasmania than interstate.

Lara Giddings says price hikes in Tasmania has been modest because the state-run power network is better managed than private networks elsewhere.

She says public ownership has prevented the so-called “gold-plating” of power networks

“This year and next year we’re expecting a price increase in electricity of no more than inflation,” she said.

“Now that’s extraordinary when you consider other states in this year have had to face price increases of 15, 20 per cent.

“Here in Tasmania our government-owned businesses have been very responsible in the investment in the infrastructure we need to insure that we don’t have blackouts or brownouts around the state.

“So at a national level, we absolutely support what the Prime Minister is doing.”

Topics: electricity-energy-and-utilities, hydro-energy

First posted December 03, 2012 09:03:19

Tipped price rises may sandbag PM’s power play

Updated December 03, 2012 20:53:24

It seems Julia Gillard’s plans to save consumers $250 a year on power bills may already have been sandbagged in New South Wales.

There are more price rises in the offing for many consumers in the state which Federal Labor has identified as crucial to its hopes for re-election next year.

One of NSW’s biggest electricity suppliers, Energy Australia, has outlined plans to put prices up by 10.5 per cent over the next three years.

At the weekend, Ms Gillard announced a reform package in which she wants to give more funding to the national energy regulator and set up new consumer groups to keep power prices down.

The Commonwealth wants to put an end to the “perverse incentive” to overinvest in poles and wires, and give consumers more access to information about their electricity usage through the installation of so-called smart meters.

Ms Gillard is hoping to reach an agreement on the plan at a Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting of state and territory leaders on Friday.

But state and territory leaders are calling for more details before signing up.

In NSW, the chairman of the state’s Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART), Peter Boxall, says competition is the best guarantee of lowest possible prices for electricity.

“In our view, effective competition, where retailers strive to offer customers products and services they value, is the best way to ensure that prices are driven towards the efficient cost of supply,” he said.

“However, we expect that the main driver of recent electricity price increases – rising network costs – will ameliorate over the next three years.”

Despite that perspective, the retailers’ outlook is for higher prices across New South Wales.

Energy Australia, which supplies electricity and gas to 1.1 million businesses, is proposing to raise prices by up to 4.5 per cent from next July.

It also predicts a further rise of 3 per cent from 2014, and another 3 per cent the year after that.

Origin Energy, which covers western Sydney, the Illawarra, as well as regional and rural NSW, is also predicting price rises.

“We expect that a reasonable regulated electricity price path across the regulatory period would see price increases above CPI, but nowhere near replicating the recent year-on-year double digit price increases,” said spokesman Frank Calabria.

Business and industry are looking for substance rather than stunts and politicking come Friday.

Innes Willox, from the Australian Industry Group (AIG), says he hoped there can be real outcomes determined in the national interest.

“There are a series of measures that are being put forward that are really important for industry,” he said.

“You’ve got a proposal that would provide incentives to users, including industry, to voluntarily cut their electricity usage during the peak times, times of peak demand and that would be most welcome, because that would drive down costs.

“Our electricity system broadly is focused around those five or six days a year that are either really hot or quite cold where peak demand goes through the roof.

“If we can do important things, sensible things, to reduce demand during those periods of high stress on the network, that should reduce costs for all.

“If we can provide incentives for business to do that, business would be very quick to take that up I’m sure.

“And we’ve got other systems around a more formal role for energy users, including businesses in decision-making processes around electricity network investment.

“That’s really positive because it will get industry involved in the decision-making process.”

Topics: electricity-energy-and-utilities, industry, business-economics-and-finance, consumer-protection, federal-government, federal—state-issues, australia, nsw

First posted December 03, 2012 20:07:40

Mills stands firm on utility price hikes

Updated November 26, 2012 10:35:33

The Northern Territory Chief Minister says a petition will not sway his decision to increase power prices by 30 per cent and water bills by 40 per cent.

The Labor Opposition says more than 3,000 people have signed the petition asking the Territory Government not to go through with the increases.

But Terry Mills says it has to be done in order to reduce Government debt.

“No one will be putting out a petition arguing for a tariff increase no matter what size it is,” he said.

“If I’d gone out and said it was going to be 15 per cent, I think there would still be petitions.

“No one wants to bear the heavier load and I understand why because it’s expensive to live here now.”

The Office of the Chief Minister has taken out a half-page taxpayer-funded newspaper advertisement to explain its reasons for the price rises.

Mr Mills says everybody has to carry the load and staggering the cost would only prolong the burden.

“The fact is we all have to carry that additional load that we have been shielded from by the short-term self indulgent decisions of the previous Labor Government who didn’t have the courage to do what was right and shield future generations from colossal debt growth.”

Topics: electricity-energy-and-utilities, government-and-politics, alice-springs-0870, darwin-0800

First posted November 26, 2012 10:30:31

Utility price hikes ‘fattening pig for sale’: Labor

Updated November 26, 2012 18:23:27

The Northern Territory Opposition Leader says the Government is using price hikes to prepare the Power and Water Corporation for a sell-off.

Delia Lawrie claims the Country Liberals Government is preparing to sell the utility to Energex in Queensland, which is headed by former Country Liberals chief minister Shane Stone.

The Labor Opposition has also raised concerns that Ken Clarke, who is on the Government’s budget review panel, is an Energex board member, alongside Power and Water board members Merv Davies and Linda Mackenzie.

Ms Lawrie says the Chief Minister Terry Mills wants to privatise the utility.

“He is fattening the pig for sale at market,” Ms Lawrie said.

“He wants to sell off Power and Water, privatise the utility.

“And no coincidence that his old mate Shane Stone heads up a private company in Queensland and has Ken Clarke, who’s advising Terry Mills on Power and Water, on the board of Energex in Queensland.”

But the Treasurer Robyn Lambley says the price rises have nothing to do with a plan to privatise.

“Absolute nonsense,” Ms Lambley said.

“It is so far off the table it is not even worth talking about.

“No one in their right mind would buy the Power and Water Corporation.

“It is bordering on insolvency at the moment and that is why we’ve had to make these difficult decisions just three months into Government.”

Topics: electricity-energy-and-utilities, government-and-politics, darwin-0800

First posted November 26, 2012 17:34:31

WA miner slashes jobs citing commodity price fall

Posted November 22, 2012 17:31:00

A miner in Western Australia’s Mid West has slashed part of its work force, citing the current economic climate as one of the factors for the cuts.

At least 80 workers have been made redundant at MMG’s Golden Grove mine, about 450 kilometres north-east of Perth.

MMG’s Ted Woodruff says the company is undergoing a business restructure and as the site’s new open pit mine is now completed, the full workforce at Golden Grove is no longer required.

“Redundancies are only one part of it, the restructure is designed to improve the operation costs of Golden Grove and obviously, while it’s not the main reason, there are ongoing cost pressures and the decline of commodity prices has certainly had some influence,” he said.

MMG mines zinc, copper and precious metals.

Topics: mining-industry, geraldton-6530

Power and water price hikes take growing toll

Posted November 22, 2012 16:43:47

A Northern Territory aged care services provider says it will have to fund raise to make ends meet once the price of utilities increases.

Frontier Services says its budget is already stretched and it will be hit hard by the increase in power prices of 30 per cent and water of 40 per cent.

Regional manager Sharon Davis says the impact of the hikes will be huge.

“A quarter of a million dollars is our estimate,” she said.

“We will have to raise funds because our budget is set, our income is set, by the Federal Government.

“There is no way we can add an extra dollar here or extra dollar there to the residents’ fees, they’re all prescribed fees.”

Ms Davis also says the increases will put extra strain on recruitment and on current employees.

“I was almost in tears yesterday considering that impact,” she said.

“We struggle now to recruit.

“Darwin is an expensive place to live.

“Even in places like Katherine and Alice Springs, the costs are high, the housing is more expensive than interstate.

“So, it means somebody on $20 dollars an hour, they’re gone.”

Meanwhile, a Top End child care centre says it will have to raise its daily rate by about $10 next year because of the utilities price hikes.

Louise de Bomford is from a child care centre in Darwin and says there will be a significant flow-on effect to families.

“We are increasing from the first of January to another $5 per day, per child,” she said.

“We will be looking at possibly another $5 a day per child increase in the first quarter of next year.”

She says some families will feel the pinch.

Topics: government-and-politics, aged-care, child-care, electricity-energy-and-utilities, nt, darwin-0800, katherine-0850, alice-springs-0870

OGRA increases petrol price by Rs1.57/litre

ISLAMABAD: The Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) has notified an increase in petrol and a decrease in diesel as well as kerosene oil price with immediate effect, Geo News reported.

According to notification the petrol price has gone up by Rs1.57 per litre.

On the other hand the price of diesel and its light form have come down by Rs3.52 and Rs3.79 a litre respectively.

Kerosene oil price has also seen a cut of Rs4.23/litre.

Rationalising prices: Govt mulls increasing Qadirpur field wellhead price

Move to transf­er billio­ns of rupees of additi­onal burden on gas consum­ers.  Qadirpur is the country’s fourth-largest gas field, with 3.6 tfc of recoverable gas reserves. Daily production ranges between 600-700 mmcfd. PHOTO: FILE


The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) is to consider a plan to raise the wellhead price of the Qadirpur gas field, a move which will put an additional multi-billion rupee burden on gas consumers in the country.

In a summary moved to the ECC, to be considered in its next meeting, the petroleum ministry has proposed an increase of $0.44 per mmbtu in the gas wellhead price. The current wellhead price is $2.56 per mmbtu. The Qadirpur gas field started operations in 1994, and the field is expected to be depleted by 2017.

“The total impact of the raise in the wellhead price has been worked out to be Rs200 billion, which will be borne by gas consumers till 2017,” sources said.

Sources familiar with the development said that the move will give birth to controversy; and that exploration companies operating under the Petroleum Policy, 2001, will demand a revisit of their Gas Price Agreement (GPA) with the government in order to raise prices from the existing $2.86 per million British thermal unit (mmbtu).

According to the GPA concerning the Qadirpur gas field, the discount rate used to calculate the wellhead price is linked with High Sulphur Fuel Oil (HSFO) price, with an upper cap of $200 per ton. This formula was also approved by the ECC. However, sources said that petroleum ministry officials at that time included clause (1-b) in the GPA without the approval of the ECC, in order to bind the government to re-negotiate the price after ten years.

Sources said that the GPA has no reference as to how discounts are to be calculated if the price of HSFO goes above $200 per ton. As the price of HSFO is currently over $400 per ton, private shareholders of the Qadirpur gas field have been pressing the government to re-negotiate the gas price. The present government has been working to renegotiate the deal since 2009, but the raise in the wellhead price has not been approved in the past due to the potential of controversy attached with such a move.

When contacted, Petroleum Secretary Dr Waqar Masood said that the price raise would be applicable on future gas production, and its impact would be nominal. He also claimed that the clause pertaining to the re-negotiation of gas price was present in the summary approved by the ECC at that point in time. He said that a price of $6 per mmbtu was being offered under the new petroleum policy, and that the price of the Qadirpur field would still be lower than this price.

Qadirpur is the country’s fourth-largest gas field, with 3.6 trillion cubic feet (tfc) of recoverable gas reserves. Its daily production ranges between 600-700 million cubic feet gas per day (mmcfd). The field is three-quarters owned by the Oil and Gas Development Company (OGDC), while Kirthar Pakistan possesses 8.5%, Pakistan Petroleum 7%, PKPEL 4.75% and PKPEL-2 holds a 4.75% stake in the field.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 21st, 2012.

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The poor man’s fuel: Regulate the use of CNG, not just the price

 A Toyota Prado lines up with a Suzuki Mehran for a CNG refill. Consumers like these destroy the benefits of providing the cheap fuel as a means to lessen the poor man’s burden. PHOTO: FILE


The merits of the idea can always be argued. There are supporters as well as opponents to the idea of switching to CNG. The efficacy of the idea however needs no argument. The switch to CNG to mitigate or to some extent lessen the economic burden of the masses has failed to bring about the desired results.

I feel the bigger issue is about who actually ends up using CNG. There is the general perception that CNG is a poor man’s fuel and the shift from petrol was initiated to enable the lower income groups to benefit.

However, while that may have happened in some cases, for the most part, the real beneficiaries of CNG, regardless of what price it is being sold at, are those who were never really less privileged or ‘poor’ to begin with. And this becomes quite obvious when one sees long lines of Corollas, Citys, Civics and other expensive cars, including fancy SUVs lined up to get CNG. I tried, I really did, but I could not come up with any economic rationale to classify these people as less privileged.

In fact, the less privileged do not usually own cars. The less privileged do not use taxis and rickshaws. The less privileged either use motorcycles or public transport to get to work or go about their daily commute. And I think we can safely argue in today’s economic environment that anyone who can afford nothing more than a 800cc car also falls within the domain of middle or lower middle class. Motorcycles do not use CNG. And while transporters have made the shift from diesel to CNG in large numbers, fares have not been reduced to reflect this change.

So we have established that the idea is probably flawed, based on the fact that it has not worked. That can be as a result of two things. One is that the idea was based on unsound economic principles to begin with, or the execution was flawed. I believe that in this case the idea was workable, and still is workable. It could have made a change, but the execution was pathetic. I cannot be clearer than that.

But before I go into that, let’s take a second to figure out exactly how much one saves off CNG and if it really is worth the hassle, the conversion cost, and the increased engine maintenance cost. Let’s use some rounded off numbers and peg the price of Petrol at Rs100 and the price of CNG at 90, closer to where it was before the Supreme Court intervened to reduce prices. The reason I am using that as a peg is because current prices are interim, and they will in all likelihood be revised upwards based on the new formula being proposed by Ogra.

On average – barring extreme exceptions – the daily mileage racked by most car owners is usually not more than 50 kilometres. So that means about 5-6 litres of petrol consumed, Rs500 to Rs600 spent. A car running on CNG, would travel the same distance using about 4-5 kilogrammes of CNG. This translates into Rs360 to Rs 450 spent on a daily basis. I have based this on the average consumption of a 1300cc car. This translates into daily savings of Rs150, monthly Rs4,500.

Is this really meaningful for someone who can afford a Rs1.5 million car, or Rs2 million? And factor in the fact that the car owner invested in the CNG conversion kit and also pays more on the maintenance of the engine as a result. It really doesn’t make economic sense to me. Most of us can easily save more than this or even more by resorting to other means like saving on electricity consumption, driving less, carpooling, or buying a smaller car. But I guess this means a measure of self-discipline but that’s no fun is it?

The government has to put its foot down to insist that the savings made by public transport owners – since the shift to CNG and LPG – be passed on to consumers.

The mass-shift to CNG in private cars without any regulation which has resulted in the current shortage is also the government’s fault. They can still fix it. I believe any car with an engine capacity over 800cc should not be allowed to run on CNG. It should be restricted to mass public transport and not even prime movers. It certainly should not be allowed in Civics, Corollas, Citys and SUVs. If one can buy an expensive car, one probably is and should be willing to pay the cost of running it. If you can’t, then buy a smaller car!

Published in The Express Tribune, November 19th, 2012.

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Price hikes flagged in Power and Water shocker

Posted October 30, 2012 18:09:22

Electricity price rises have been flagged amid concerns that the Power and Water Corporation is in dire financial straits.

Treasurer Robyn Lambley has told the Northern Territory parliament that she sought, and received, the resignation of corporation board chair Judith King.

Ms Lambley said Power and Water Corporation could not survive without ongoing government support.

“A private company would have been moved into administration in such circumstances,” she said.

She said she had received correspondence showing the board’s chair was aware of the organisation’s situation a year ago.

“Consequently, on Monday, I asked for the resignation of the chair of the Power and Water Corporation board,” she said.

Ms King’s resignation was tendered today.

The Treasurer indicated Territorians could face higher tariffs to make Power and Water commercially viable.

Opposition Leader Delia Lawrie is claiming power, water and sewerage prices could increase by up to 50 cent.

The Treasurer today told Parliament that the Power and Water Corporation is not trading at a sustainable level.

“Look it’s a guessing game at this stage in terms of the CLP plans,” she said.

“We know they are talking about commercial sustainability.

“If you go to the Reeves Report, commercial sustainability would see about a 50 per cent increase across your power, water and sewerage bills.”

Topics: electricity-energy-and-utilities, parliament, political-parties, darwin-0800, nt

Melbourne households facing water price hike

Updated November 01, 2012 20:23:31

Melbourne’s household water bills are set to soar by an average of 34 per cent next financial year.

City West Water, Yarra Valley Water and South East Water have proposed the price hikes as part of their five year plans which start in July next year.

Each has flagged large increases next year, to cover the cost of the Wonthaggi desalination plant.

These will be followed by smaller, inflation-based increases for the remaining four years.

The proposal would lift the average water bill by nearly $300 in the first year.

City West Water’s Anne Barker says retailers are playing catch up, after price increases were frozen this financial year to compensate customers incorrectly charged for the desalination plant before it was finished.

“What we are trying to do is to match our costs and our prices and our costs spike in that first year, and so that’s why we’re proposing such a large increase,” she said.

The charges are yet to be approved by Victoria’s Essential Services Commission.

Topics: water, water-management, water-supply, electricity-energy-and-utilities, vic, melbourne-3000

First posted November 01, 2012 18:27:11

Veggie price falls lead inflation moderation

Updated November 05, 2012 11:09:44

A leading private measure of inflation shows consumer price rises moderated in October, as fruit and vegetable prices eased.

The TD Securities – Melbourne Institute monthly inflation gauge rose 0.1 per cent last month, down from a 0.2 per cent rise in September and 0.6 per cent increase in August.

Prices rose most strongly for communications, newspapers, books and stationery, and domestic holiday travel and accommodation.

Fruit and vegetable prices started falling back after some strong rises in previous months, while bread and cereal products, and audio, visual and computing equipment also eased.

The trend was for the price of mainly imported tradable goods to fall (down 0.2 per cent on average), while domestic non-tradeable services tended to rise (up an average 0.3 per cent).

TD’s head of Asia-Pacific research Annette Beacher says the falls in the prices of imported goods are likely to unwind if the Australian dollar remains steady or falls.

“We all expect, and certainly the RBA expects, for the fact that the Aussie dollar has been stable for quite some time, that downward drag [on prices] is going to fade over time,” she told ABC News Online.

“So I’m certainly not of the view that the RBA has a lot of work to do on the interest rate front, because the Aussie dollar is doing some of the work for them.”

Ms Beacher expects the Reserve Bank to leave official interest rates on hold tomorrow, despite the inflation gauge showing headline inflation for the year to October at 2.4 per cent and the RBA’s preferred underlying measure of inflation (which excludes the largest price movements) at 2.1 per cent, both well within its 2-3 per cent target.

“We think they’ve already made that pre-emptive [rate] move,” she said.

“I think there enough stickiness in that September quarter [official] inflation report such that they can sit and pause and wait for the impact of past easing.”

However, 20 out of the 27 market economists surveyed by Bloomberg expect the RBA to cut rates by 25 basis points to 3 per cent when it meets tomorrow.

Topics: business-economics-and-finance, economic-trends, money-and-monetary-policy, australia

First posted November 05, 2012 10:52:24

House price rise below expectations

Updated November 06, 2012 14:00:29

Australian house prices edged higher in the September quarter, but by much less than economists expected.

The official Bureau of Statistics index shows capital city house prices rose 0.3 per cent in the three months to the end of September, and also 0.3 per cent over the past year.

The best performer over the third quarter was Perth, with prices jumping 1.8 per cent, and up 4.4 per cent over the past year.

Darwin had the best annual gain of 8.2 per cent, despite prices easing 0.5 per cent in the September quarter.

Sydney continued to post solid, but not stellar, gains – prices rose 0.3 per cent in the most recent quarter and 1.3 per cent over the past year.

Brisbane’s 0.4 per cent quarterly gain dragged it back into positive territory over the past year, with a modest 0.3 per cent annual rise.

However, Melbourne’s 0.2 per cent quarterly rise still left house prices 2.3 per cent below their levels a year ago, and likewise Hobart which was also up 0.2 per cent in the quarter but down 2.2 per cent annually.

Adelaide fell 0.6 per cent in the September quarter and 1.1 per cent over the past year, while the nation’s capital recorded a 1.1 per cent fall in the latest quarter and 0.4 per cent rise over the past year.

BT Financial Group’s chief economist Chris Caton says it is the first annual rise since the March quarter of 2011.

“The ABS series has a lot of competition these days. Other price indexes tend to be more timely, so this release is rarely even noticed by markets, even when it’s not Melbourne Cup Day,” he observed in a note on the data.

“It is, however, one more piece of evidence that house prices have stabilised.”

Topics: business-economics-and-finance, housing-industry, economic-trends, money-and-monetary-policy, australia, nt

First posted November 06, 2012 12:08:54

CNG price conundrum: OGRA proposes Rs13 per kg hike; SC to consider on Monday

Move propos­ed to keep CNG pumps operat­ional; author­ity wants margin­s reduce­d.  The margin on CNG was reduced from Rs11 to Rs6.22 per kg due to the price slash on October 25, which will further come down to Rs3.50 per kg following the new profit margin formula. PHOTO: FILE


The reprieve provided to customers by the slash in CNG prices might be coming to an end.

The Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) on Saturday proposed a hike in CNG prices of up to Rs13 per kilogramme (kg) to keep CNG stations operating in the country.

The Supreme Court will consider the proposed CNG prices plan in its hearing scheduled on Monday, November 19.

In its orders issued on October 25, the Supreme Court directed CNG prices to be cut after declaring the mechanism of basing CNG prices on the price of petrol as illegal.

Ogra subsequently placed a price cut of Rs30 per kg, ending a memorandum of understanding between the government and the CNG Association on a formula for the operating cost of CNG stations. Subsequently many stations shut down due to the lower prices, saying that they were not even able to pay gas utility bills.

In its report submitted to the Supreme Court on Saturday, in line with the final forensic report conducted by a consultant, Ogra recommended the price increase of up to Rs13 per kg for Region-1 – comprising Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and the Potohar Region (Rawalpindi, Islamabad and Gujar Khan) and Rs11.56 per kg increase in Region-2 – Sindh and Punjab (excluding Potohar Region) to let CNG stations remain operational.

Presently, consumers are being charged Rs61.64 per kg in Region-1 and Rs54.16 per kg in Region-2. After the proposed increase, the price of CNG in Region-1 will rise to Rs74.64 per kg. In Region-2, the price will rise to Rs65.72 per kg.

Sources said that Ogra had recommended the increase in a bid to keep CNG stations open and prevent consumers from facing hardship.

According to the report, Ogra also proposed to reduce the profit margins of CNG dealers by revising the margins formula. CNG dealers have been receiving margins following the present formula that ensures a 20% rate of return on the total cost of gas, including operating expenses. But the regulatory authority has said that it will be delinked with the cost. According to the report, it has proposed to link the margin for dealers with investment by investors to set up CNG stations.

According to the price slash on October 25, the margin of CNG has already been reduced from Rs11 to Rs6.22 per kg. This margin will be further slashed from the existing Rs6.22 to Rs3.50 per kg following the new profit margin formula, sources added.

Ogra had awarded a contract to a chartered firm, Avais Hyder Liaquat Nauman, to conduct an audit of 11 CNG stations regarding how much profit they earn to determine the new pricing formula. The audit firm was asked to submit its findings to Ogra within four days. Sources said the recommendations of the audit firm are close to the proposed increase in CNG prices by Ogra.

According to the break-up of the current CNG prices, the government’s tax share in Region-1 is Rs35.89 per kg, which breaks down into Rs11.57 per kg of cross subsidy, Rs7.77 per kg sales tax at a rate of 25%, Rs13.24 per kg for Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) and a sales tax on GIDC at a rate of 25%, amounting to Rs3.31 per kg.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 18th, 2012.

View the original article here

Food big factor in Abu Dhabi consumer price hike

Abu Dhabi: Food and non-alcoholic beverages were the largest contributors to the rise in consumer prices in the first ten months of 2012, according to Abu Dhabi’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) report released on Tuesday.

The group accounted for 52.5 per cent of the rise in the index during the period due to price increases for coffee, tea and cocoa products, which surged by 8.5 per cent.

Prices for meat were also up 7.1 per cent, while prices for oils increased by 6.1 per cent. Fish and seafood prices increased by 6 per cent while prices for vegetables went up by 5.6 per cent.

Restaurants and hotels were the second largest contributor to the overall increase in consumer prices, accounting for 49.4 per cent of the increase in the CPI during the period.

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AGL threatens investment halt due to price regulation

Updated October 23, 2012 12:51:18

Energy provider AGL says it will halt investment in power generation, including renewables, in South Australia, and says it is also reviewing its options in New South Wales.

AGL chairman Jerry Maycock says the moves are in response to what he called called “ill-considered” pricing decisions taken by state energy regulators in South Australia and Queensland.

“It’s really ironic that the recent ill-considered reaction of some regulators, such as those in Queensland and South Australia, to simply regulate down prices, will cause significant long-term cost increases for consumers, damage competition and innovation and make the national electricity market an unviable investment proposition,” he warned.

The Essential Services Commission of South Australia released a draft decision to reduce the price of electricity by $27.20 per megawatt hour.

It says it will not invest in new South Australian generation capacity, and has also cut back marketing in Queensland in response to price cuts there.

AGL says the flow on effect from the South Australian and Queensland decisions may also result in it cutting back its marketing activity in New South Wales.

Mr Maycock says there is a real risk that overlapping state and federal regulatory structures could result in the collapse of the national electricity market.

“No-one should be surprised to see new investment in the national electricity market evaporate, with all of the consequences that would follow,” he said.

“We would in fact go so far as to say that the continued regulation of retail prices, and overlapping state and federal regulatory structures, creates a real risk of systemic failure of the national electricity market.”

The energy supplier says the regulatory decisions in South Australia and Queensland could reduce full-year underlying profit by up to $60 million.

The company expects its underlying profit to rise up to 30 per cent this financial year, to be in the range of $590-640 million.

AGL says one of the main drivers of its expected rise in profit is the acquisition of the Loy Yang A power station.

The company is holding its annual general meeting in Sydney today.

Topics: business-economics-and-finance, company-news, electricity-energy-and-utilities, regulation, australia, sa, nsw, qld

First posted October 23, 2012 11:36:20

Abu Dhabi-led group submits lowest price for Saudi power station

Abu Dhabi/Khobar: An Abu Dhabi-led group submitted the lowest price to build a power station in Saudi Arabia, a Saudi statement said, and a source said the group will go into exclusive talks on the project.

The consortium led by Abu Dhabi National Energy Co (TAQA) and also comprising Samsung Engineering and Qatar Electricity & Water Co (QEWC) had made the lowest bid for the Rabigh 2 project, a statement from the Kingdom’s sole utility Saudi Electricity Co (SEC) said on Monday.

The bidding consortium will enter into exclusive talks with SEC and, if selected, will jointly own 50 per cent of the project company along with SEC, a second source said.

TAQA’s bid ranked ahead of four other consortiums that bid for the plant, included groups headed by Saudi-based ACWA Power, South Korea’s Kepco and Japan’s Marubeni.

Article continues below

Rabigh 2 is a green-field heavy fuel oil power plant, the fourth project in SEC’s IPP programme. It is located 175 km north of Jeddah on the west coast of the Kingdom.

Samsung and Alstom are the selected engineering, procurement and construction contractors, while the electricity generated by the plant will be sold via a 25-year power purchase agreement to SEC.

TAQA, whose controlling shareholder is the Abu Dhabi government, owns an interest in the 250 MW Jubail power plant in Saudi Arabia. The financial close for the project is scheduled for before March 31, 2013, the statement added.

EE announces its 4G price plans

22 October 2012 Last updated at 23:04 GMT  EE chief executive Olaf Swantee says his company has found the “sweet spot” over price Mobile operator EE has announced the prices for its 4G service, the first of its kind to be commercially available in the UK.

The firm’s cheapest contract will be £36 per month with no limit on domestic calls and texts.

However, customers on this plan will only have a data allowance of 500MB, at which point net access is stopped unless a data add-on is bought.

The 4G service will launch on 30 October.

Compared to uses on the slower 3G network, data usage on 4G is expected to be high – potentially leading to increased costs for users who wish to download a lot of data-intensive content such as audio or video.

The announcement follows a frustrating wait for UK consumers who have been unable use 4G capabilities thanks to repeated delays and legal wranglings over the next-gen network’s roll out.

An auction, due to take place early next year, will allocate newly-available spectrum space to other operators looking to offer 4G to their customers.

However, those operators were said to be angry at EE’s 4G headstart, with O2 and Vodafone only recently agreeing not to take legal action over the matter.

‘Months of research’ EE chief sales officer Marc Allera: “You’re paying a 10-20% premium for 4G”

Until today, EE had remained tight-lipped over how it planned to charge customers to use its new service.

Industry observers saw it as a critical announcement if EE was to pull customers away from the other networks – particularly iPhone users.

EE – which until recently was known as Everything Everywhere – told the BBC that it was confident in its pricing.

“We really think we’ve priced it at the sweet spot,” chief executive Olaf Swantee told BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones.

“It’s all based on months of consumer research.”

The top tariff for standard customers will cost £56 per month, and has a data allowance of 8GB.

EE, keen to demonstrate added remote working capabilities, is making a special effort to tempt small businesses with 1GB data allowances on contracts of £35 per month.

Alongside 4G, EE has also launched an on-demand service in which customers can access content directly using 4G but without impacting on their data allowance.

Price revision: Govt reduces petrol, CNG prices by over Rs2

The move is taken despit­e a parlia­mentar­y resolu­tion agains­t weekly price change.  The move is taken despite a parliamentary resolution against weekly price change. PHOTO: FILE


Despite a unanimously-approved resolution in the National Assembly against the weekly change in the prices of petroleum products, the government on Sunday announced new prices — yet again.

The decision, however, brought cheer to the consumers as petrol prices have been lowered by Rs2.32 per litre ahead of Eidul Azha in line with a reduction in global oil prices.

The National Assembly had unanimously passed a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) sponsored resolution to immediately withdraw the decision to review prices of petroleum products on a weekly basis and instead put in place an open and transparent system for price fixation on a monthly basis.

Nonetheless the government changed the prices two days after the resolution’s passage although Religious Affairs Minister Khursheed Shah had assured the house, on a query from the opposition, that the government would adhere to the resolution and that the ministry had been asked to take parliament’s decision into account.

After the decision taken under the weekly oil prices review mechanism, petrol prices witnessed a cut of Rs2.32 per litre for the coming week making it the second consecutive week during which petrol prices have been slashed during the month: the price of petrol was slashed by Rs2.09 per litre last Sunday.

The petroleum ministry had submitted a summary to the finance ministry on Saturday so that it may notify the new prices from today (Monday). After the proposed cut, the price of petrol has come down from Rs103.40 to Rs101.08 per litre.

CNG and others

The prices of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) will also witness a decline of up to Rs2.12 per kilogramme, due the linking of the fuel’s price at 60% parity of petrol.

In Region I (Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa), the new price of CNG would be Rs92.54 per kilogramme (kg) – slashed by Rs2.12 per kg – while in Region II (Sindh, Punjab) prices will decline by Rs1.94 per kg from Rs86.48 to Rs84.54 per kg.

After a constant decline in High Speed Diesel (HSD) prices for the last few weeks – which is used mostly in the transport and agriculture sectors –consumers faced a price hike of Rs3.16 per litre last Sunday following a fluctuation in global oil prices.

This week, high speed siesel consumers will receive a nominal price cut of Re0.33 per litre, which will bring its price down to Rs113.29 from the existing Rs113.62 per litre.

Kerosene oil – which is used for cooking purposes in remote areas where Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) is not readily available – has witnessed an upward revision in prices for the past few weeks.

The price of kerosene has also come down by Re0.61 per litre, bringing it down from Rs103.87 to Rs 103.26 per litre. Consumers had faced a Rs1.92 per litre price hike last Sunday due to a fluctuation in global oil prices.

Light Diesel Oil (LDO), used mainly for industrial purposes, witnessed a nominal decline in prices of Re0.25 per litre that brought the price down from the current Rs97.93 per litre to Rs97.68 per litre.

Jet fuels JP-1, JP-4 and JP-8 also witnessed a decline by Re0.62, Re0.58 and Re0.63 – reaching Rs92.46, Rs84.36 and Rs92.14 per litre, respectively.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 22nd,  2012.

Rising energy costs: SC questions linking CNG price hikes with petrol

Apex court seeks detail­s of weekly price review from Ogra, petrol­eum minist­ry.  Apex court seeks details of weekly price review from Ogra, petroleum ministry. PHOTO: FILE


The Supreme Court on Thursday sought from the petroleum ministry and the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) a detailed breakup of compressed natural gas (CNG), natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) prices as well as copies of agreements between the government and petroleum companies.

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, questioned the mechanism of how CNG prices are set and asked the petroleum ministry and Ogra to explain the link between the price hikes of CNG with petroleum products.

The court also asked them to submit details of the weekly price review of petroleum products, along with the component cost and the decisions of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet to allow Ogra and the petroleum ministry to fix prices on a weekly basis.

Chief Justice Chaudhry asked Petroleum Secretary Dr Waqar Masood to explain why there was such a huge difference between CNG prices and its raw component, natural gas, especially since gas was being produced domestically.

Masood informed the apex court that 80% to 85% of petrol is imported, thus petrol prices were adjusted against the international market prices, and also adjusted gas prices against petrol prices. He added that prices of petroleum products in the country would fall, following the setting up and functioning of more refineries.

Justice Jawwad S Khawaja pointed out that while petrol is imported from abroad, gas is produced in Pakistan, which begged the question as to why gas prices are linked with petrol prices. Masood said this was because the LPG quota system was abolished in 2002 and the government had given subsidies worth Rs46 billion to domestic consumers.

“Why do consumers have to suffer because of the losses incurred by petroleum companies?” the chief justice asked.

Masood was then ordered to also explain where the money generated from the Petroleum Product Levy (PDL) was being used. Chief Justice Chaudhry was bewildered as to why the government could not levy the money generated by the PDL, following the lapse of the ordinance that imposed a carbon tax on petroleum companies.

Masood informed the apex court bench that CNG prices are determined as per the ECC’s guidelines. He also submitted the implementation report on the recommendations made in the Justice (retd) Rana Bhagwandas report.

Chief Justice Chaudhry said that the government was not entering into an agreement with petroleum companies on a daily basis for price adjustment, as the agreements were for a specific period. But CNG rates were still increasing daily.

The court also observed how the ECC could make major decisions, such as raising the prices of petrol and CNG, without consulting all the provinces, when autonomy was granted to the provinces under the 18th Amendment. It added that as a result, the provinces were suffering immensely. Justice Khawaja said that such decisions should be taken in the Council of Common Interests instead.

The court later adjourned the case till October 24.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 19th, 2012.

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Analysts cut Google price targets

Bengaluru: At least seven brokerages cut their price targets on Google Inc’s shares after the company missed Wall Street earnings expectations, but analysts said growing mobile advertising revenue points to better times ahead.

The earnings report, released hours ahead of schedule due to an error on Thursday, revealed slowing sales in Google’s core internet advertising business.

The quarterly earnings missed expectations for the second time in a year but analysts said the decline was a short-term trade-off as mobile advertising revenue becomes a bigger part of its business.

Chief Executive Larry Page, speaking on an earnings call, said that Google’s mobile business, which includes app sales and advertising, was now generating revenue at an annualised run rate of $8 billion (Dh29.3 billion), up from about $2.5 billion last year.

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“This run-rate … speaks to how GOOG has positioned itself to win regardless of platform,” Nomura Equity Research’s Brian Nowak wrote in a note, although he cut his price target on the stock to $840 from $900 because of the short-term outlook.

Google shares closed down 8 per cent at $694.37 on Thursday. The stock was up 1 per cent at $700 in premarket trading on Friday.

Piper Jaffray & Co, RBC Capital Markets, Raymond James, Robert W. Baird & Co, Susquehanna Financial Group, BMO Capital Markets and Evercore Partners also lowered their outlook on the Google stock by an average of $44.14.

Analysts at Barclays Capital, however, raised their price target by 4 per cent to $780.

In a note titled “3Q Results Disappointing but Not Alarming,” Barclays analyst Anthony DiClemente said Google’s revenue missed on slowing click volume growth, but also blamed the negative impact of foreign exchange rates.

“We believe dislocation in shares creates a buying opportunity, and we like GOOG into 4Q, as we believe the company can benefit from ecommerce tailwinds and moderation in CPC (cost per click) declines on easier (comparables).”

For the fourth consecutive quarter, Google reported a decline in average CPC, a critical metric that measures the price advertisers pay the company.

Advertisers on Google’s network pay a smaller fee for mobile display ads compared to a similar ad on PCs.

Net revenue growth at Google’s main internet business increased 17 per cent year-over-year — the first time growth in that business has fallen below 20 per cent since 2009.

Google finance chief Patrick Pichette stressed on the conference call that the revenue growth rate would have been higher if the impact of currency rates had been backed out.

“We are incrementally more positive following the call given our belief that despite any near-term fluctuations from mobile monetisation and FX, Google’s franchise is intact and remains one of the most reliable growth stories on the Internet,” Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster said.

Persistent losses at Google’s recently acquired cellphone business, Motorola Mobility, were further exacerbated by a faster-than-anticipated fall in revenue for that unit.

RBC analyst Sean Kim said margins were likely impacted by Google’s Nexus 7 tablet and higher-than-expected losses at Motorola Mobility Inc (MMI).

“Going forward, we continue to expect somewhat elevated level of losses at MMI and some margin degradation due to Nexus 7,” Kim said.

Google launched Nexus 7, its first tablet, earlier this year to take on Amazon.com Inc’s Kindle Fire and Apple Inc’s

iPad, but the low $199 price tag and related marketing costs weighed on margins.

“Marketing was higher primarily due to increased advertising for the Nexus 7 tablet,” Raymond James’ Aaron Kessler said.

ACCC blames discounts for fuel price spike

Posted October 19, 2012 17:12:07

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has blamed discounts and rising wholesale prices for the recent spike in petrol prices.

Bowser prices have jumped 25 cents a litre at some petrol stations in the past few days.

ACCC petrol commissioner Joe Dimasi says he is investigating whether businesses are inappropriately sharing price information.

He says higher wholesale prices globally and the fortnightly cycle of discounting have fed into the increase.

“It used to be the weekly cycle which we’re now seeing roughly happen each fortnight,” he said.

“Beneath that as well, we’ve been seeing some pretty significant increases in the price of crude oil and in the price of internationally traded petrol.

“So it’s a combination of those things which saw a very big jump.”

Mr Dimasi says the ACCC can explain but not control petrol prices.

“The price is set by the market,” he said.

“The ACCC doesn’t have a role in setting or regulating the price of petrol.

“But what we do look at is to make sure that the market is behaving appropriately and we do have an investigation underway on the information sharing that goes on among the major retailers.”

Topics: oil-and-gas, consumer-protection, australia

Ticket price cuts ‘unrealistic’

Calls for a reduction in ticket prices have been branded as unrealistic by a football finance expert.

The Football Supporters’ Federation wants Premier League clubs to fund a cut with money from a new television deal.

But finance firm Deloitte says the income generated by the deal is likely to go on increased wages for players.

Dan Jones, partner in sports business at Deloitte, told BBC Sport: “Wages will categorically go up.”

BBC Sport’s Price of Football study showed that the average cheapest ticket price at a top-flight club has increased from £24.87 in 2011 to £28.30 this year.

The new Premier League television deal will run for three years starting from next season, with the sale of the rights raising £3.018bn – an increase of £1.25bn on the current package.

Malcolm Clarke, chairman of the FSF, wants that extra money passed on to fans.

He told BBC Sport: “Ticket prices have been a concern of ours for a long time. In the current economic situation football supporters suffer the same as everybody else and some of these prices are just unacceptable.

“The new media rights deal for the Premier League, even before the foreign rights deal is announced, means they could knock around £30 off each single ticket next season and still have as much money as they have now.”

But the cash is more likely to be spent on player wages, according to football finance experts Deloitte.

“Could all the clubs choose to reduce ticket prices and not invest in the playing squad? Absolutely they could,” Jones said.

“But I don’t think the fans would be very happy. The reason that the TV money is so high is because the football on show is so good and the players are the best. You have to pay to get the best.

Reduce ticket prices, says Football Supporters’ Federation chair Malcolm Clarke

“It is a circle; you have the most money, so you can pay the biggest wages, so you can attract the best players, so you have the best league so you attract the most money.”

Wigan chairman Dave Whelan believes that clubs have a duty to look after their supporters and is keen on capping the salaries of players to stop prices from increasing.

He told BBC Radio 5 live: “Clubs need to realise that we are in tough times and our supporters are very loyal people.

“We should try our best to bring the price of tickets down. I’m a firm believer in a wage limit for players. It’s getting so expensive. At Arsenal it’s £985 for a season ticket? That’s astronomical.”

But Jones insists that wages for players in the Premier League will only go one way from next summer – up.

He said: “Wages will go up. If there is more revenue in the game then more money will be spent on wages, that is absolutely categorically going to be the case.

“That is the case in every professional sport around the world and will continue to be the case.”

Premier League: £24.87 – £28.30 Championship: £20.37 – £21.07 League One: £15.52 – £18.54 League Two: £15.29 – £17.06 Overall: £19.01 – £21.24 – an overall rise of 11.7% Blackburn chose to reduce prices in 2007 after a new TV deal was struck, but Jones does not expect clubs to repeat the offer next season – though he does not see prices rising sharply either.

Despite the increase in prices, demand remains high with 92.6% of Premier League seats sold last season. 

“If you’re already selling your tickets your first thought isn’t going to be to lower prices. That would be unusual,” said Jones. “If fans were voting with their feet and staying away then clubs would listen, but all the evidence is that that is not the case.

“On the whole this new TV deal will be good news for fans as I don’t see ticket prices rising highly, they will stay around the same level.

“You are not paying to watch a bunch of middling English players play on a muddy pitch from an uncovered terrace any more, you are seeing the best players in the world in high quality stadia where you are sat in safety and comfort.

“And this deal keeps the Premier League as the best league in the world.”

Farmers urge govt to announce wheat support price before sowing season

KARACHI: Farmers have urged government to increase wheat support price and announce it before start of the sowing season in November, otherwise they would look for other crops, as input cost increased manifolds.

Farmer Associates Pakistan (FAP) has convened a special meeting this week to discuss various prospects pertaining to the next wheat crop as the wheat sowing season is round the corner.

The members were of the opinion that because of various detrimental factors it is feared that this year farmers will generally refrain from sowing wheat because of higher prices of agriculture inputs such as fertilisers, power and above all 22 percent increase in the price of diesel since last wheat crop that increased from Rs93 per litre to Rs113 per litre in October.

Dr Tariq Bucha, president of FAP, urged the government to announce new wheat support price immediately to attract and encourage farmers to sow wheat as the sowing season is about to commence.

If the government failed to do so then several farmers might not sow that grain and go to alternative crops, which fetch more price than wheat, he said.

“Last year in October, the wheat support price of 40kg was Rs1,050, though most of the farmers did not even get this announced support price,” he said.

In the present scenario, the international wheat price has reached $290 per ton on FOB Karachi basis. If one calculates the price on FOB Karachi basis in Pakistan, it would reach Rs1,420 per 40kg to the consumer, which was higher than the support price, he said. “This clearly indicates that there has been phenomenal increase in wheat price in the international market, while farmers are being deprived of their rightful earnings by the indifferent attitude and the lack of vision on part of the government.”

The Farmers Associates Pakistan demanded the government to immediately announce wheat support price to be at least equal to the international price, which is Rs1,425 per 40kg.

Wheat growers have always responded positively to the increase in support price, if it is announced before the sowing season as was done in 2008 when the country consequently experienced bumper wheat crop. The FAP president said there is no one to take care of agriculture and its related policies despite the existence of the ministry of food security, which was doing nothing for the sector.

Syed Mehmood Nawaz Shah, secretary general of Sindh Abadgar Board, said that during the last three years wheat support price was increased to Rs1,050 per 40kg from Rs950, which was hardly 10 percent increase, while the input prices increased by 100 percent during the same period.

Three years ago, urea bag was available at Rs900, which is now being sold at Rs1,800, DAP was available at Rs2,200 and now its price is Rs4,400 and the same was the issue with other inputs. Diesel was sold at around Rs75, which is now at Rs113, he added.

“Wheat cost production is highly increased and the support price of Rs1,015 is not appropriate,” he said. “Wheat production is likely to be affected because of increase in the input costs this year.”

Shah said that sowing started in Sindh during November, while support price announcement usually came in December or January that had no impact on sowing. “So, October is the perfect month for announcement of the support price,” he added.

Exports lift gas price more than carbon tax: report

Updated October 17, 2012 09:00:43

A report commissioned by industry groups warns gas prices on the east coast could triple due to the surge of LNG exports to Asia.

The report prepared by the National Institute of Economic and Industry Research says such gas price rises for power producers would see cost increases three times bigger than those from the carbon tax.

It says the gas price rises would be due to a potential shortage of domestic supply, despite eastern Australia’s abundant gas reserves, due to much of the new production already being sold on long-term contracts to Asia.

Current plans for LNG export terminals are expected to see Australia’s shipments of liquefied gas to overseas markets rise from 2 million tonnes in 2015 to as much as $24 million tonnes by 2023, according to the report.

The Plastics and Chemicals Industries Association, one of the groups that commissioned the report, is concerned that the increase of domestic supply from less conventional sources such as coal seam gas will be slowed by local opposition and regulatory processes.

“It is important for all governments to remove unnecessary barriers to the increased production of gas from the unconventional resources that can now be safely accessed,” said PACIA’s chief executive Margaret Donnan.

“But we also need to understand the real economic risks associated with the export of Australia’s east coast natural gas resources and that is the purpose of this report.”

The report finds that, if supply does fail to match local demand, each petajoule of gas shifted away from local industrial use to be exported would cost an estimated $255 million in lost domestic production for a $12 million gain from the exports.

The report’s other sponsor, the Australian Industry Group, says many manufacturers are highly reliant on getting gas at relatively low prices, particularly some metal, chemical, plastic, pharmaceutical and paint producers.

“Australia needs a competitive gas market and affordable energy will play an increasingly important role for the success of our industries sustainable employment,” warned the AiGroup’s chief executive Innes Willox.

East Asia has among the highest gas prices in the world, up to five times those currently seen in the US as that country experiences a surge in supply driven by the development of shale fields.

Industry groups are concerned that Australian prices will rise towards those levels as local manufacturers and power companies are forced to compete for supply with export markets in Asia.

Topics: business-economics-and-finance, oil-and-gas, manufacturing, australia, qld, nsw

First posted October 17, 2012 00:00:01

Willing to buy India fuel, but at a competitive price: Dr Asim

NEW DELHI: Petroleum minister, Dr Asim Hussain, on Tuesday said the country was willing to import diesel and jet fuel from rival India if the price is “right”.

The statement by visiting Pakistan petroleum minister, was the latest sign of warming ties between the nuclear-armed neighbours who have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947.

If the right prices are given, we have no problems importing (diesel and jet fuel),” Hussain said on the sidelines of a petrochemical conference in the Indian capital, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.

India and Pakistan have been channelling their peace efforts into “trade diplomacy” in a bid to build enough trust to tackle thornier issues that divide them such as the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.

While Pakistan has removed fuel imports from its list of goods that were banned from being imported from India, it allows import of diesel and jet fuel only by ship.

India, which has refineries across the border, is keen to take the road

route to reach fuel-short Pakistan.

“I think a way could be found (to import via land) as import of (fuel) products is not banned,” Hussain said, adding that a team from India’s

state-run Hindustan Petroleum Corp would soon visit Pakistan to discuss prices.

India in August lifted a ban on foreign investment from Pakistan except in defence, space and atomic energy in a step designed to build goodwill amid the renewed push for a peace settlement.

Pakistan has pledged to grant India “Most Favoured Nation (MFN)” status by yearend, meaning Indian exports will be treated the same as those from other nations. India granted Pakistan MFN status in the mid-1990s.

Official bilateral trade is just $2.7 billion and heavily tilted in New Delhi’s favour, according to the most recent figures, but unofficial trade routed through third countries is estimated at up to $10 billion.

India warily resumed a full peace peace dialogue with Pakistan early last year after suspending it following the 2008 attack by Islamist gunmen on Mumbai that killed 166 people. (AFP)

Oil price impact: KESC tariff cut by 44 paisa per unit

Cost of furnac­e oil for the compan­y comes down.  Oil cost: 61,000 rupees per ton was the price of furnace oil in July, which fell from Rs67,000 PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) has approved a reduction of 44 paisa per unit in the tariff of Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) on account of fuel price adjustment for July and August 2012.

For July, the tariff has been slashed by 7 paisa and for August the tariff comes down by 37 paisa.

In a petition filed with Nepra, the KESC said it sold 1.508 billion units of electricity to consumers in July this year, with a reduction of Rs105.006 million in fuel cost and asked the regulator to pass on the impact to the consumers.

According to the KESC, the actual decrease in fuel cost for the electricity produced by the company stood at Rs162.997 million, but it paid an additional cost of Rs57.991 million for power received from external sources. Thus, the reduction of 6.962 paisa in per unit fuel cost should be passed on to the consumers for the month of July, it said.

The KESC pointed out that in July the cost of furnace oil went down from Rs67,000 to Rs61,000 per ton and the cost of gas fell from Rs560 per million British thermal unit (mmbtu) to Rs507 per mmbtu following a cut in the Gas Infrastructure Development Cess.

Though the total impact of decline in fuel cost was 10 paisa per unit, the company had to operate its plants on furnace oil due to gas outages. Therefore, the impact came down to seven paisa per unit, the KESC argued.

In August, the KESC sold 1.407 billion units of electricity to the consumers, with the fuel cost declining by Rs517.615 million. The impact of reduced fuel cost on the company’s own power generation was Rs254.679 million and the cost of power purchased from external sources came down by Rs262.935 million.

It asked Nepra to pass on the reduction of 36.774 paisa per unit in power cost to the consumers for the month of August.

In the month, the cost of furnace oil dropped from Rs67,000 to Rs65,000 per ton. The company saw the possibility of further decline in power tariff in September as well because of falling furnace oil prices.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 18th, 2012.

View the original article here

Trade with India: Given ‘right price’, Pakistan ready to import Indian oil

Countr­ies plan to set up a 200km pipeli­ne from Bathin­da to Lahore for trade.  Countries plan to set up a 200km pipeline from Bathinda to Lahore for trade. PHOTO: FILE


In what could be an important Confidence Building Measure (CBM) between the two countries, Pakistan is not averse to importing petroleum products such as diesel and petrol from India if it gets “the right price was offered”, Petroleum Minister Asim Hussain said on Tuesday while on a visit to the Indian capital.

“A team from HPCL (Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd) will come to Pakistan very soon to discuss prices (for exporting fuels),” Hussain told reporters on the sidelines of Petrotech 2012. “If right prices are given, we have no problems importing.”

Trade ties between the two nations have shown signs of a thaw recently. Early this year, Pakistan notified its negative list for India, which means barring 1,209 items, New Delhi can now export all products to the neighbouring country. The negative list contains products such automobiles and textiles.

Pakistan also agreed in-principle to grant India ‘Most Favoured Nation’ status over 15 years after it was given the same status by India.

In March this year, Pakistan’s then petroleum and natural resources secretary Muhammad Ejaz Chaudhry had discussed with his Indian counterpart G C Chaturvedi the possibility of Pakistan importing petroleum fuels from India.

Hussain said on Tuesday that if prices can be agreed upon, Pakistan can import petroleum fuels from India both through pipelines and sea routes.

India and Pakistan plan to set up a 200 kilometre pipeline from Bathinda in Indian Punjab to Lahore to trade petroleum products. India has surplus refining capacity, and is a major exporter of oil products while Pakistan meets most of its needs through imports from West Asian countries. Apart from HPCL, IndianOil will also benefit as the company has an oil storage depot in Bathinda, and a 12 million tonne refinery in Panipat, Haryana.

The minister also said on Tuesday that the country will offer 60 oil and gas exploration blocks in the next two months, and will discuss with his Indian counterpart possibilities of offering some of the blocks to Indian companies on a bilateral basis.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 17th, 2012.

View the original article here

Uranium price keeps Angela Pamela plans on hold

Posted October 16, 2012 12:38:38

The company responsible for the proposed Angela Pamela uranium mine in Central Australia says it still sees the site as one of its key projects.

The uranium deposit 20 kilometres from Alice Springs has been earmarked for a mine but no work has been done there for two years.

Earlier this year, the Northern Territory government extended mining company Paladin’s exploration licence.

Paladin chief executive John Borshoff says the the lack of activity at the site does not mean the company has abandoned its plans.

“We regard Alice Springs as a key project for … the future,” he said.

Mr Borhoff says progress on the project has slowed because of the low price of uranium.

“The uranium price is still depressed, although we are confident about what will happen in the future now the Fukushima issue is fully behind everybody and nuclear (power) is in clear air,” he said.

Meanwhile, output from the Ranger uranium mine at Jabiru almost doubled during the September quarter.

Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) says production of uranium oxide was up by 96 per cent.

Topics: uranium-mining, regional-development, alice-springs-0870

Food price crisis: What crisis?

15 October 2012 Last updated at 23:05 GMT By Richard Anderson Business reporter, BBC News  Corn crops in the US have been devastated by the worst drought in 50 years Without water, crops cannot grow and the world cannot eat. And this year, there hasn’t been enough of it.

The US has seen its worst drought in more than 50 years, vast swathes of Russia have been left parched by lack of rain, India has had a dry monsoon, while rainfall in South America early in the year fell well below expectations.

As a direct result, harvests of many crops have been decimated, forcing the price of some cereals back up towards levels last seen four years ago, a time when high prices sparked riots in 12 countries across the world and forced the United Nations to call a food price crisis summit.

The lack of rain this year has raised fears we are rapidly heading for another price crunch.

The focus has been on US corn production, which has been all but wiped out in many regions. In fact, US corn inventories are running at just 6% of annual consumption, well below the 25% that is generally considered an appropriate buffer.

Soya-bean production is also well down, while grain production in Asia has been hammered, with yields in some countries down by more than 50%.

Global food prices since 1990

And yet most experts agree the situation is nothing like as dire as it was four years ago, nor in fact two years ago when droughts again hit food production hard, sending prices to record highs.

Prices are measured against expectations, and harvests have not been as bad as many had feared. More importantly, stocks are in better shape. Perhaps most importantly, key producers, in particular Russia, have not imposed the kinds of export bans that helped trigger previous price hikes.

These were particularly damaging as the world has become more dependent for its grain on the Commonwealth of Independent States, which includes some of the world’s biggest producers of wheat, including Russia, Kazakhstan and unofficial member Ukraine.

“Big producers have been battered by drought but they are honouring their export contracts,” says James Walton, chief economist at food experts IGD.

“If Russia or central Asian countries were going to do something, they would probably have done it by now.”

Continue reading the main story One third of all food goes to wasteConsumers in rich countries waste almost as much food as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan AfricaWe will need to produce 70% more food by 2050 to feed the world’s expanding populationGlobal corn stocks have halved since 1998More than 100 million more people across the world suffer from hunger due to recent food price risesGlobally, one in eight people do not have enough food.

Sources: UN, US Department of Agriculture

The Agricultural Market Information System, which was established last year and allows the world’s major food producers to work off common data as well as providing a forum for discussion, has played an important part.

“Governments are shying away from restrictive measures; supplies are not as bad and inventories are not as bad,” says Abdolreza Abbassian, senior economist at the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.

“Recent experiences have made people a little over sensitive, but [the situation] does not look as bad [as 2008]“.

In fact, according to Mr Abbassian, there is no shortage of rice, despite patchy harvests, while inventories of wheat are good, and much higher than in 2007. Sugar production in Brazil has also been much better than expected, while China has generally had a good growing season, Mr Walton adds.

There is also less pressure on prices from biofuels, a “big factor” in the 2008 price spikes, Mr Abbassian says, when a record high for the price of oil drove demand for alternative fuels. Corn and sugar, for example, are used extensively in biofuels – in the US, 40% of all corn production goes into making ethanol. Not only is the oil price well below those highs, but the UN says fewer crops are diverted towards biofuels.

Overall, then, fears of an impending food price crisis would appear to be exaggerated.

“There has been a lot of talk about food prices at the UN, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and the general feeling is we are not in the same situation we were in in 2008,” says Marc Sadler, senior agriculture economist at the World Bank.

Continue reading the main story But while the chance of food prices returning to levels seen in 2008 and 2011 in the coming months may be slim, they remain at historically high levels, and the underlying factors driving them are here to stay.

Population growth and, more importantly, the rapidly growing middle classes in the developing world, are pushing demand for grain-intensive protein ever higher, while rising energy costs are pushing up the cost of supply. High food prices, therefore, are here to stay.

Long gone are the days of butter mountains and milk lakes as governments fundamentally rethink agricultural policy and cut back on subsidies to farmers.

Global inventories have fallen sharply since the turn of the century as a result – wheat stocks are down by almost a third, rice by more than 40%, and corn by a half.

And these stocks are unlikely to increase. As Mr Sadler says, “even in a good year we just about produce enough food to meet consumption needs”.

Margins, therefore, are getting smaller and supplies ever more susceptible to shocks, such as the severe droughts experienced in the past five years. And extreme weather patterns appear to be becoming more commonplace. Experts are wary of blaming climate change, but many believe rising temperatures are having a major impact on rainfall. If they are right, then unpredictable and more extreme weather is here to stay.

‘Biggest challenge’ Handling grain People in the developing are far more exposed to rises in the price of food

Those living in the developed West will be relatively unaffected, as produce in the shops is far removed from the raw commodity – wheat is a fairly small component in the cost of a loaf of bread, for example. In fact, the impact on the price of meat is more pronounced, as 5kg of grain are needed to produce 1kg of protein.

Even here, however, there has been a profound change in recent years, according to Mr Walton. “The era of cheap food which we take for granted is over. Food will continue to be available, but don’t expect the price to go down,” he says.

The impact on those living in poverty in the developing world – those who buy the raw ingredients to make their own produce, and who spend a far greater proportion of their income on food – is far, far greater.

“The global population will soon hit nine billion and everyone has to be fed. Making sure they are is the number one challenge of this century. This is not a question of can we, can’t we? We have to,” says Mr Sadler.

Dramatically cutting back on food waste, which currently accounts for a third of all food production, would be a start, but a huge increase in investment in global agriculture is also needed. If it fails to materialise, the consequences will be devastating.

Energy retailers warn on price cut

Posted October 12, 2012 08:02:59

The peak body for Australia’s retail energy industry says a plan to reduce South Australian electricity prices could leave customers worse-off in the long term.

The state’s energy watchdog has recommended a 8.1 per cent price reduction for standing contracts, which would apply to about 25 per cent of SA power consumers.

But Cameron O’Reilly from the Energy Retailers Association of Australia says the cut is based on current low prices in the wholesale electricity market but prices can fluctuate quickly.

“[It is] linking the consumers to quite a volatile wholesale energy market that in the past has shown that it can go up at very short notice due to things like high summer temperatures,” he said.

“Under the approach adopted by ESCOSA (Essential Services Commission of South Australia) what is relief now could be more significant increases in the future.

“We think as an industry it’s better for consumers to have stability rather than volatility.”

Topics: electricity-energy-and-utilities, consumer-protection, states-and-territories, government-and-politics, sa, adelaide-5000, mount-gambier-5290, port-augusta-5700, port-lincoln-5606, port-pirie-5540, renmark-5341

Home price surge increases Reserve’s rate dilemma

Updated October 02, 2012 15:46:59

Australian capital city home prices surged 1.4 per cent in September, however they have not yet recovered the falls of the previous year.

Last month’s home price rise across Australia’s eight capital cities was the largest in two-and-a-half years and comes on the back of 125 basis points of rate cuts over the past year.

The RP Data-Rismark home value index shows the price gains were strongest in Adelaide (2.4 per cent) but then broadly spread against the other big capital cities which posted gains between 1.6 per cent (Perth) and 1.1 per cent (Brisbane).

Prices in Hobart and the territory capitals all went slightly backwards in the month, while regional houses fell 1.2 per cent, although those rest-of-state figures only run to the end of August.

RP Data’s research director Tim Lawless says the improvement in capital city home prices, which are now up 2 per cent over the past three months, is largely due to interest rate cuts.

“It’s no coincidence that housing market conditions bottomed out at the end of May after the Reserve Bank cut the official cash rate by 50 basis points,” he said in the report.

“A further cut of 25 basis points in June and the anticipation of further rate cuts in the pipeline appear to have instilled renewed confidence in the housing market which has driven the growth in home values.”

However, Mr Lawless says the strength in home prices generated by the rate cuts is likely to weigh against the Reserve Bank making further reductions.

“This renewed strength in the housing market is likely to be one of the key deliberation points when the Reserve Bank meets today,” he said.

“The bank will want to keep a lid on housing prices from a financial stability perspective, while at the same time ensure interest rates are low enough considering the decline in commodity prices and Australia’s terms of trade.”

Rismark chief executive Ben Skilbeck says mortgage interest rates are now at or even below levels seen during the global financial crisis, when the RBA slashed official rates to 3 per cent.

“Borrowers can currently avail themselves of three-year fixed rates as low as 5.39 per cent, which is below the three-year fixed rate lows recorded by the RBA’s indicator lending rates of 5.6 per cent during the GFC,” he said.

“If the RBA cuts rates further today, such monetary policy could ignite house price growth in excess of the growth in household disposable incomes.

“It’s not too long ago that we saw the impact of historically low interest rates on house prices. Over the two-year period ended December 2010, the national house price index increased by more than 20 per cent.”

Topics: business-economics-and-finance, economic-trends, housing-industry, money-and-monetary-policy, australia

First posted October 02, 2012 10:21:11

Slipper votes with Labor to ditch carbon floor price

Posted October 11, 2012 12:05:44

Peter Slipper has sided with Labor to pass legislation removing the floor price from the carbon tax and linking Australia’s emissions trading scheme to that operating in the European Union.

Mr Slipper’s decision to vote with the Government on the legislation is his first major indication since stepping down from the Speaker’s role on Tuesday that he will not be tied to the policies of his former party – even on issues of carbon pricing.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott yesterday said he expected the crossbench MP to vote with the Coalition given he was elected as a Liberal National Party member at the 2010 election, although he quit the party late last year when he became Speaker.

The legislation, passed by the House of Representatives, will allow Australian businesses to buy carbon pollution permits from the European market once the fixed price period ends in 2015.

It will also remove the floor price for carbon emissions once the Australian system transitions to a market-based scheme.

The Coalition tried to block the legislation, arguing it would result in billions of dollars being sent overseas to international carbon traders.

It also moved a motion calling on the Government to scrap the carbon tax, a move voted down by Labor with the help of several independent MPs, including Mr Slipper.

The Greens were unsuccessful in their bid to amend the legislation to require the Productivity Commission to review the level of assistance provided to coal-fired power stations.

Labor described the amendment as a “breach” of the agreement reached by the multi-party climate change committee.

As part of the Government’s plan to link the Australian system to the European Union emissions trading scheme, the original floor price had to be removed.

The legislation will also allow the Australian scheme to be linked to other international carbon markets as they develop around the world, including in Asia and the United States.

The bills will now be considered by the Senate.

The carbon price took effect on July 1 this year, although the Coalition is promising to repeal the tax if it wins the next election.

Topics: federal-parliament, federal-government, government-and-politics, emissions-trading, australia, qld

Proposal moved to hike diesel price, lower petrol

ISLAMABAD: Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) has forwarded a proposal to the Ministry of Petroleum seeking a hike in the price of diesel and reduction in that of petrol under the government’s weekly mechanism for revising the rates of fuel prices, Geo News reported Saturday.

Sources told the Geo News that in the proposal OGRA has recommended a rise of Rs3.16 per litre in the price of diesel and a reduction of Rs2.09 a litre in the rate of petrol.

The summary further proposes to increase the prices of kerosene oil and light diesel by Rs1.92 and Rs1.23 per litre respectively.

It is believed that with the reduction in price of petrol the Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) will witness a decline of around Rs2 per kilogram.

Petrol price expected to decrease

ISLAMABAD: The price of petrol is expected to be reduced by Rs.3 per litre where as diesel is expected to be increased by Rs.3 from 15th October. The price of CNG is also expected to go down by Rs.2.75 because of the reduction in petrol prices.

According to sources in the petroleum ministry, the price of all petroleum products except petrol is expected to rise.

Price of Kerosene oil and light diesel is expected to rise by Rs.1 and Rs. 1.50 per litre respectively.

A final summary by OGRA based on the prices used by the oil marketing companies will be sent to the petroleum ministry on Saturday.

High oil price to push up growth of oil-producing economies in Mena region to 6.5% in 2012

 Image Credit: BloombergOil pipes and storage tanks that are part of the Abu Dhabi Crude Oil Pipeline, known as Adcop. In the GCC countries, growth remains robust, supported by expansionary fiscal policies and accommodative monetary conditions.

Dubai: A high oil price and post-war recovery of Libya are expected to boost economic growth of the oil exporting countries of the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) to an aggregate 6.5 per cent in 2012, up from almost 4 per cent in 2011, said the latest Regional Economic Outlook issued by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Friday.

“The region’s oil-exporting countries have been able to use the proceeds from booming oil prices to sustain growth in a weak global environment,” the IMF said.

“For the group as a whole — Algeria, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Yemen — economic activity in the non-oil sector is forecast to expand by close to 5 per cent in 2012 and 2013, up from around 4 per cent in 2011, helped by high levels of government spending and accommodative monetary conditions.

In the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, growth remains robust, supported by expansionary fiscal policies and accommodative monetary conditions.

Article continues below

“For them, as for the region more broadly, the medium-term challenge is to generate enough jobs for a young and rapidly growing population,” IMF says.

However, IMF cautioned that growth is projected to return to around 4 per cent in 2013.

“Among the common challenges are the difficulties of European economies and prospect of slower global growth, but with limited impact thus far. The retrenchment of European financial institutions from the region is one of the visible manifestations of the crisis in Europe,” Dr Giyas Gokkent, NBAD Group Chief Economist, said.

Demographics and population profiles are two important issues for policymakers, he says. “A common challenge is to create employment opportunities given very young population profiles in the Mena region and to meet the population’s aspirations. Tied to this is the necessity to provide the education and skills which will be critical for long term growth prospects.”

A young and increasingly educated population could be the source of prosperity in the Mena region if an environment that promotes open competition is created, supported by an education system that teaches relevant skills, according to a report by the World Bank. The report offers a detailed analysis of the many factors that have contributed to one of the highest rates of youth unemployment in the world, along with one of the lowest rates for female participation in the labour force. It proposes a set of policy reforms to unlock the region’s large and untapped human potential.

“The call for bread, freedom and dignity is a mandate for change in the Arab World, and the expression of immense expectations, on the part of young people in particular,” said Inger Andersen, World Bank Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa. “This presents an unprecedented opportunity for enacting the reforms that will set the stage for higher growth and the more and better jobs the region needs.”

Increased competition will be critical for converting the Mena private sector into an engine of economic growth and good jobs, World Bank says.

The current environment continues to protect a limited number of privileged firms through complex and unevenly enforced regulations, and limited access to credit. This has resulted in an insider/outsider model that has limited innovation and creativity, it says.

“Young people in the region need a clearer path from school to work,” said Steen Jorgensen, Mena Director for Human Development at the World Bank. “The private sector should signal to students what skills are most valued, and higher education needs to adapt and offer students courses that respond to those signals.”

However, Gokkent feels that plenty of jobs have been created in Mena in recent years.

“GCC have played an important role taking off some off the pressure in oil importers in the region and providing foreign exchange inflows to the oil importers via tourism, investment, workers’ remittances, and trade. Encouragement of investment and provision of the right skill sets through the educational system will be key factors,” he said.

Although the price of oil has fallen from its April peak, thanks in part to recovering supply from Libya and record volumes of oil production in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, it is expected to stay close to its 2011 levels in 2012–13.

“Oil activity is expected to account about 30 per cent overall economic activity in real terms in the GCC,” Dr Gokkent says.

“GCC economies are investing significant amounts in sectors where they possess a comparative advantage or where such an advantage can be created. These efforts are paying off as there has been a shift in a range of sectors in terms of global economic activity towards the Middle East. Examples include aviation, metals, and petrochemicals.”

IMF projects GCC real GDP growth at 5.5 per cent.

“As a result, the oil exporters’ combined current account surplus is anticipated to remain at its historic high of around $400 billion [Dh1.5 trillion] in 2012. However, these record surpluses are sensitive to a change in the oil price: a 10 per cent drop in oil prices would bring down that surplus by about $150 billion,” the IMF report said.

In the context of booming oil prices and growing social demands, government expenditure on wages and salaries has been rising dramatically in most oil exporters in recent years.

“This stepped-up spending has contributed to a faster increase in fiscal breakeven prices (the oil price at which an oil exporter’s fiscal balance is zero for a given level of spending and revenues) relative to increases in the actual oil price,” it said.

To boost resilience to oil price declines and to achieve greater intergenerational equity, fiscal policy can gradually shift to bolstering national savings. Although some low income oil exporters face constrained budgets and difficult trade-offs, many oil exporters in the region could ease the rate of government expenditure growth, especially on hard-to-reverse expenditures, such as government sector wage bills.

Contained public-sector hiring, which tends to crowd out private-sector employment, together with broader structural reforms, would also help generate faster job creation in the private sector.

Microsoft sets Windows 8 price, opens for pre-order

Saturday, 13 October 2012 04:29 Posted by Abdul Ahad

Microsoft-Windows-8SEATTLE: Microsoft Corp opened its Windows 8 operating system for pre-orders on Friday, setting the price for an upgrade to the full version of the software at $70 for a DVD pack.

Users can also wait for launch on Oct. 26 to download the system onto their computers for $40, an offer price that will expire at the end of January. PCs running Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 will be able to upgrade to Windows 8.

Shoppers can reserve the software pack at Microsoft’s own stores, Amazon.com, Best Buy, Staples and elsewhere. Microsoft has not yet announced the price of the full software to install from scratch, as opposed to the upgrade. The current price for a comparable version of Windows 7 is $200.

Any customer who buys, or already bought, a Windows 7 PC between June 2 and the end of January 2013 will be able to get an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for $15, a move designed to prevent a drop-off in PC sales before the launch of Windows 8.

Microsoft also said PC makers such as Acer, Asustek, Dell, HP, Samsung and Sony were also now taking pre-orders for machines with Windows 8 pre-installed.

The world’s largest software company did not mention its own Surface tablet PC, which is expected on the market at the same time as Windows 8. Microsoft has not revealed the price of the product it hopes will challenge Apple Inc’s iPad.

Copyright Reuters, 2012

Wheat flour price increases by Rs4 per kg

KARACHI: The price of wheat flour has increased by around Rs4 per kg in October as the Sindh Food Department refused to cut down the rate of wheat against the demand of the flour mills, said official sources on Thursday.

With an increase of almost Rs4 per kg or Rs400 per bag, the price of chakki flour has reached Rs40 per kg in the retail market, said Farid Qureshi, secretary general of Karachi Retail Grocers Association.

One flour miller said that the Sindh Food Department supplied wheat to mills at Rs2,850 per 100-kg, while the Punjab government provided it at Rs2,800 per 100-kg. “The quality of Sindh flour is inferior to the wheat available in the open market,” he said. The rate of wheat in the open market remained at Rs3,000 per 100-kg, which was almost Rs150 more than the wheat supplied by the Sindh government.

Munir Jalbani, spokesperson of the Sindh Food Department, said that their price includes the price of bardana (jute bag) as well, which costs them Rs115. “We are supplying high-quality wheat from the new crop, while Punjab is supplying old crop wheat. Still, we are giving a subsidy of Rs3 billion to the mills,” he said. He further added that they had last year’s wheat stock by the time of procurement this year, which was exported before procuring the new crop wheat. “Punjab is running on overdraft and still has old wheat stocks. They procure more than four million tons, while we purchase around 1.3 million tons only,” he said.

The Sindh Food Department procured 1.3 million tons of wheat from the province by establishing 390 centres at the support price of Rs1,050 per 40-kg. The federal government increased the support price of wheat to Rs1,050 per 40-kg this year against Rs950 per 40-kg of last year, in order to provide relief to the growers amid increasing input prices. Pakistan’s average wheat production is around 23 million tons, which reached 23.86 million tons in 2009-10. Sindh produced a crop of nearly 4.2 million tons this year. Jalbani said that there were fewer stocks from last year and wheat was supplied to the mills until the new crop arrived. “After the arrival of the new crop, the remaining stocks were exported and the department paid its dues to the State Bank of Pakistan,” he said. The province has a capacity to store 700,000 tons and other wheat is stocked at private warehouses and flour mills.

General Secretary Sindh Abadgar Board Syed Mehmood Nawaz Shah said that the food department should have a procurement of 1.8 million tons from Sindh instead of 1.3 million tons, as the province witnessed increase in production. Sindh’s wheat arrived earlier while Punjab was late in the season. Punjab set a target of 3.5 million tons and carried forward stocks of 2.8 million tons from last year’s crop.

Brigadier Rasheed A Baig, director of Farmers Associates Pakistan, said that Punjab carried 2.8 million tons from last year’s crop, while they did not provide easy opportunities to growers during procurement, as their policy was totally inconvenient. “Last year, only the revenue department was assigned to procure wheat but this year three personnel from different departments headed by a grade-17 officer were involved in supplying bags to growers,” he said. Baig added that he was not satisfied with the new policy of the Punjab Food Department as it took four days to collect the paper for bardana availability and 15 days to sell the wheat to them. “The growers could not benefit from an increase in the support price,” he said.

Sugar price hikes, despite 1.2m ton stock

KARACHI: The price of sugar in the province of Sindh on the rise despite 1.2 million tons of available sugar stocks in the country, Geo News reported.

The ex-mill sugar price across Sindh has recorded an increase of Rs5 per kilo during the last five days.

Industry sources said that following government permission to further export sugar, the escalating trend in price continues since last week. The ex-mill price-hike has triggered rising wholesale price to Rs52 per kilo.

Experts said that 1.2 million tons of sugar stock exists across the country, while the profiteers making false pretence of sugar exports have suddenly escalated the price of sugar.

The people have demanded from the government an effective control of sugar price for it stabilization.

Petrol price likely to rise by Rs3.04

Financ­e minist­ry asks govt to mainta­in curren­t prices.  Finance ministry asks govt to maintain current prices. PHOTO: FILE


After a week’s relief, consumers are likely to face another hike in petrol prices of Rs3.04 per litre, effective from Monday, under the weekly oil prices review mechanism.

Following a fortnight of steady increases in prices, consumers got some relief the past week when the price of petrol was cut by Rs6 per litre, bringing it down to Rs102.45. Prices had been hiked by Rs6.82 on September 16 and by Rs1.73 on September 23, registering a total increase of Rs8.55 in 15 days.

While the price of high speed diesel (HSD) is likely be slashed by Rs2.70 per litre, the prices of other petroleum products, such as kerosene and light diesel, will also rise in the coming week, according to a summary forwarded by the petroleum ministry to the finance ministry on Saturday.

The government will approved the revision in oil prices on Sunday (today), following which they will be effective Monday onwards.

Price changes

The price of petrol will rise from Rs102.45 to Rs105.49 per litre. HSD, meanwhile will decrease from Rs113.16 to Rs110.46.

Kerosene will rise by Rs0.72, reaching Rs101.95 per litre, while light diesel will rise by Rs0.48 to Rs96.70 per litre.

Jet fuels JP-1, JP-4 and JP-8 will go up by Rs0.72, Rs0. 44 and Rs0.72 respectively, reaching Rs91.14, Rs82.94 and Rs90.38 per litre respectively.

Following the change in petrol prices, the price of compressed natural gas (CNG) – which maintains 60% parity with petrol prices – will rise by Rs2.78, hitting Rs93.79 per kg in Region I (Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa) and by Rs2.54, hitting Rs85.68, in Region II (Sindh, Punjab).

Maintain prices

While the finance ministry has asked the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) not to recommend any cut in fuel prices, it has asked the federal government to maintain the current price of petrol by adjusting the hike with the petroleum levy.

Experts say the new weekly oil prices review mechanism has failed to benefit consumers or the government, and has instead worked in favour of oil dealers and hoarders.

The Federal Board of Revenue recently informed the Senate Standing Committee on Finance that the government lost Rs7 billion in revenue due to this new mechanism. Following this revelation, the panel has recommended switching back to the monthly review mechanism.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 7th, 2012.

Sugar price hikes, despite 1.2m ton stock

KARACHI: The price of sugar in the province of Sindh on the rise despite 1.2 million tons of available sugar stocks in the country, Geo News reported.

The ex-mill sugar price across Sindh has recorded an increase of Rs5 per kilo during the last five days.

Industry sources said that following government permission to further export sugar, the escalating trend in price continues since last week. The ex-mill price-hike has triggered rising wholesale price to Rs52 per kilo.

Experts said that 1.2 million tons of sugar stock exists across the country, while the profiteers making false pretence of sugar exports have suddenly escalated the price of sugar.

The people have demanded from the government an effective control of sugar price for it stabilization.

Sugar price hikes, despite 1.2m ton stock

KARACHI: The price of sugar in the province of Sindh on the rise despite 1.2 million tons of available sugar stocks in the country, Geo News reported.

The ex-mill sugar price across Sindh has recorded an increase of Rs5 per kilo during the last five days.

Industry sources said that following government permission to further export sugar, the escalating trend in price continues since last week. The ex-mill price-hike has triggered rising wholesale price to Rs52 per kilo.

Experts said that 1.2 million tons of sugar stock exists across the country, while the profiteers making false pretence of sugar exports have suddenly escalated the price of sugar.

The people have demanded from the government an effective control of sugar price for it stabilization.

Weekly price review: Petrol prices go up by Rs3.04 per litre

Will cost Rs105.49 per litre, effect­ive today (Monday).  Will cost Rs105.49 per litre, effective today (Monday). PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: Petrol prices have been hiked by Rs3.04 per litre, following an official notification issued on Sunday. According to the new prices, effective from Monday, the will sell at Rs105.49 per litre, for one week.

The price of high speed diesel (HSD) has been slashed by Rs2.70 per litre, coming down to Rs110.46 from Rs113.16 per litre. It is the only petroleum product to witness a reduction in prices. The prices of the remaining POL products have been increased, in line with the recommendations the petroleum ministry forwarded to the finance ministry on Saturday.

Kerosene rate has gone up by Rs0.72 to Rs101.95 per litre and light diesel oil by Rs0.48 to Rs96.70 per litre. Jet fuels JP-1, JP-4 and JP-8 prices have gone up by Rs 0.72, Rs0. 44 and Rs0.72, reaching Rs91.14, Rs82.94 and Rs90.38 per litre respectively.

The price of compressed natural gas (CNG) has been hiked as well to maintain 60% parity with petrol prices. In Region I (Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa) they have gone up to Rs93.79 per kg, rising by Rs2.78, while in Region II (Sindh, Punjab) prices have risen to Rs85.68, up by Rs2.54.

Following a fortnight of steady increases in prices, consumers got some relief the past week when the price of petrol was cut by Rs6 per litre, bringing it down to Rs102.45.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 8th, 2012.

Govt should increase wheat support price: farmers

LAHORE: The government should increase wheat support price to at least Rs1,250 per 40 kilogramme (kg) from the present level of Rs1,050 for the same to help the growers bring down the cost of production, otherwise cultivation of the staple fiber would not attract farmers anymore, said representatives of various farmer organisations here on Wednesday.

Hamid Malhi, president of the Wheat Growers Association said that keeping in view the multiplication of the cost of production in the last one year, at least Rs1,350 per 40 kg price should be fixed for the upcoming Rabi season.

Farmers who will start sowing wheat all over the country in the month of October 2012 will have to face higher expenses related to irrigation water, land preparation, seeds, labour and transportation of produce, he said.

Continuous increase in diesel and electricity rates has become unbearable for farmers, he added. Malhi further said wheat sowing season is about to start in the heart of country but no decision has yet been taken to raise support price.

“Pakistan’s wheat production has been more or less stagnant. However, we have seen in the past that whenever the government has announced a price increase before the sowing season, the farmers have responded by producing a bumper crop,” he said.

It is very important that the government announces the wheat support price increase immediately since the wheat sowing season is about to commence, he stated.

There are numerous domestic factors of increasing wheat support price that needs to be given due attention. Moreover, he added, the international price of wheat has shown an increase of at least $60 per ton since October 2011.

This international price increase translates to an increase of approximately Rs350 per 40 kg in local price terms, Malhi said, adding the government should at least follow this trend to compensate growers.

“Instead of steep international price increase, the government should at least increase the wheat support price by Rs250 per 40 kg to incentivise the farmers to produce more wheat for the country.

According to Dr Tariq Bucha, president of Farmers Associates Pakistan, the costs of production will be approximately 10 percent higher than this year than faced by farmers in October 2011.

The escalation of these costs is primarily related to the 22 percent increase in the cost of diesel if compared with October 2011, which impacts the cost of tubewell irrigation water, mechanised land preparation and transportation of produce.

The cost of farm labour and wheat seeds has also increased by 10 percent against the level a year ago, he said, adding that to compensate for these cost increases, the government needs to announce a 10 percent support price increase for wheat against previous year’s wheat support price.

Last year, the wheat support price was Rs1050 per 40 kg. Today this price needs to be at least Rs1150 per 40 kg, Bucha observed.

Ibrahim Mughal, chairman of Agri-Forum Pakistan said that instead of increasing the wheat support price, steps should be taken to reduce cost of production. The price of diesel, electricity and fertiliser should be fixed at the level of prices set by India, he said. “We will be ready to sell wheat at Rs950 per 40 kg if the government provides us with inputs at subsidised rates as those being offered to Indian farmers,” he said. This would also help in keeping flour price at very reasonable level, thus providing relief to consumers as well, he added.

CNG price to be matched with other fuels: Dr Asim

ISLAMABAD: Advisor to the Prime Minister on Petroleum, Dr Asim Hussain has said that Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) will not remain cheap in the coming days, as its price will be brought at par with other fuels.

Talking to media men here, Dr Asim said the CNG will be phased out from luxury cars and that talks were underway for LNG import.

“The phasing out of CNG sector will depend on the availability of gas,” he said, adding use of CNG by public transport may be allowed but the this fuel cannot be allowed for vehicles like Land Cruiser and Prado.

He said if the talks for LNG import with the US companies conclude successfully, Pakistan would be able to import 2 to 3 billion mf gas.

The Advisor said that a summary proposing import of 1 billion mf LNG is being presented before the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet. Of this, the import of 200 million mf LNG would be for short-term and 80 million mf for long term use.

LPG price jacked by Rs5/kiliogramme

KARACHI: The government has jacked up LPG price by Rs5 per kg, Geo News reported.

Pakistan LPG Distributor Association President Abdul Hadi Khan broke the news to in a press conference held here.

The new price will take effect from October 3, 2012.

Hadi attributed this hike to the world market spike, where the price of liquefied petroleum gas shot up by $41 to $983 per ton.

Due to this hike, Hadi said, the per ton price of LPG in Pakistan now stood at Rs1,24000.

KSE index up by 87 points on international oil price rebound

KARACHI: The Karachi Stock Exchange’s (KSE) benchmark 100-Index increased by 87 points on Friday on buying in the oil and cement stocks after oil price recovery in the international markets and improved cement sales, said dealers.

“Rebound in the international oil prices brought renewed buying interest in oil stocks, while better cement dispatches for September kept the sector on investors’ radar,” said Samar Iqbal, an equity dealer at Topline Securities.

The KSE-100 Index increased by 87.23 points, or 0.57 percent, to 15,444.82 points. Earlier, the index moved on both the sides of the fence by 201.53 points, making the intraday high of 15,534.67 and the low of 15,333.14 points.

In the previous session, the index had lost 42 points mainly due to selling in oil stocks after oil prices fell in the global markets.

The KSE-30 Index surged by 100.25 points, or 0.78 percent, to 13,029.44 points in the session.

Shares turnover increased by 32 percent to 113.94 million from 86.62 million shares traded in the previous session. The turnover in the futures market surged to 24.08 million shares from 22.97 million shares traded a day earlier.

Market capitalisation enhanced by Rs21 billion to Rs3,898 billion. As many as 339 companies shares were traded, of which 175 advanced, 146 declined and 18 remained unchanged.

Bank Al-Habib was the volume leader with a turnover of 13.62 million shares, as it closed at Rs28.31 with a loss of 28 paisas followed by DG Khan Cement with a turnover of 12.57 million shares, as it closed at Rs50.30 with a gain of Rs1.14. Lafarge Pakistan with a turnover of 11 million shares closed at Rs5.85 with an increase of 22 paisas.

Hasnain Asghar Ali, chief operating officer at Escorts Capital, said that after staying lull in the last four sessions mainly due to rollover pressure, investors accumulated almost all the frontline stocks on speculations about the monetary policy and corporate earnings.

Banking stocks other than the top two stayed under pressure, while the sectors are likely to get relief on the much-anticipated decline in the discount rate, thereby, kept the investors poised towards the market in search of stocks that would continue the gaining spree both on earnings and payouts, he said.

Ahsan Mehanti, an analyst at Arif Habib Corporation, said that the stocks closed bullish on speculations about healthy earnings to be reported by companies listed at the KSE for the quarter to be ended September 30.

However, trade remained comparatively lower on security concerns in the city.

“Speculations ahead of the policy rate announcement due on October 5, strong valuations in the blue-chip stocks and renewed foreign interest played a catalyst role in bullish sentiment at the KSE, despite concerns over decline in the rupee-dollar parity ahead of $109 million loan repayment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).”

Unilever Pak Rs300.00

Closing Rs9,700.00

Unilever Food Rs50.00

Closing Rs3,500.00

Shezan Int Rs13.64

Closing Rs286.62

Rafhan Maize Rs219.85

Closing R4,177.15

Wyeth Pak Rs21.00

Closing Rs850.00

Siemens Engg Rs7.50

Closing Rs800.00

Petrol price rises up to Rs108.45 per litre

Second increase in 15 days; prices of other petroleum products besides CNG fall.

ISLAMABAD: For the second time in 15 days, petrol prices went up – an increase of Rs1.73 on Sunday means petrol is now a staggering Rs108.45 per litre.

On September 16, petrol prices went up by Rs6.82 – bringing the total increase in 15 days to Rs8.55 per litre.

The prices of compressed natural gas (CNG) has also risen after the increase in the petrol rate, because of a set mechanism under which CNG prices are to be equal to 60% of petrol prices.

The price increase was recommended in a summary submitted by the ministry of petroleum and natural resources to the ministry of finance on Saturday for a weekly revision. The new prices take effect from today.

The government notification also included revised prices for other petroleum products.

Prices of other petroleum products, however, including high-speed diesel (HSD), have decreased for this week.

The price of kerosene oil, another important fuel used in remote areas where liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is not available, has fallen by Rs3.05 per litre. The new price of kerosene oil will be Rs101.63 per litre. Last week, the kerosene price was increased by 62 paisas per litre.

The price of High Octane Blending Component (HOBC), consumed in luxury vehicles, has witnessed a significant cut of Rs6.06 per litre and the new price will be Rs131.90 per litre, a drop from Rs137.96.

The price of light diesel oil (LDO), which is used for industrial purposes, has fallen by Rs2.10 per litre and its new price will be 97.17 per litre.

Similarly, the price of JP-1 has come down by Rs3.04 per litre from Rs94.25 to Rs91.21 per litre. The price of JP-4 has come down by Rs3.69 per litre from Rs86.37 to Rs82.68 per litre. The price of JP-8 has also decreased by Rs3.04 from Rs93.94 to Rs 90.90 per litre.

CNG price in region-I, comprising Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, will rise to Rs99.28 per kg from Rs97.69 and in region-II, covering Sindh and Punjab, the price will be increased to Rs90.70 per kg from Rs89.25.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 24th, 2012.

Petrol price hiked by Rs1.73/litre

ISLAMABAD: The ministry of finance has approved an increase in petrol price by Rs1.73 per litre, while price-cuts have been announced in other petroleum products from 24th of September (Monday) under the weekly revision in POL prices, Geo News reported.

The prices of compressed natural gas (CNG) will also rise after the increase in petrol rate because of a set mechanism under which CNG price should be equal to 60% of petrol price.

CNG price in region-I, comprising Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, will rise to Rs99.28 per kg from Rs97.69 and in region-II, covering Sindh and Punjab, the price will be Rs90.70 per kg from Rs89.25.

However, the prices of other petroleum products including high-speed diesel (HSD) has been reduced for the upcoming week.

The price of HSD has been slashed by 47 paisa per litre. In the previous week too, the diesel price dropped by Rs1.75 per litre following a decline in global oil prices.

The price of kerosene oil has been cut down by Rs3.05 per litre.

The price of high octane blending component (HOBC) has also been slashed by Rs6.06 per litre.

The price of light diesel oil (LDO) decreased by Rs2.10 per litre.

Following the price revisions, petrol from Monday will cost Rs108.45 per litre compared to Rs106.72 earlier, HOBC Rs131.9 per litre compared to Rs137.96, kerosene oil Rs101.63 per litre compared to Rs104.68, HSD Rs113.30 per litre compared to Rs113.77 and LDO Rs97.17 per litre compared to Rs99.27.

Petrol price likely to go up by Rs1.73 per litre

Rates of other oil produc­ts may fall in weekly revisi­on today.  Rates of other oil products may fall in weekly revision today.


There seems to be no respite for petrol consumers as its price is expected to go up again by Rs1.73 per litre in tandem with fluctuations in the global crude market.

The price increase was recommended in a summary submitted by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources to the Ministry of Finance on Saturday for the weekly revision in petroleum product prices. New prices will be effective from Monday.

The prices of compressed natural gas (CNG) will also rise after the increase in petrol rate because of a set mechanism under which CNG price should be equal to 60% of petrol price.

In the price revision last week, the government increased the price of petrol by Rs6.82 per litre.

However, prices of other petroleum products including high-speed diesel (HSD) may be reduced for the upcoming week.

The price of HSD, which is mainly used in transport vehicles and agriculture, may come down by 47 paisa per litre. In the previous week too, the diesel price dropped by Rs1.75 per litre following a decline in global oil prices.

The price of kerosene oil, another important fuel used in cooking in remote areas where liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is not available, especially in northern areas, may fall by Rs3.05 per litre. Last week, the kerosene price was increased by 62 paisa per litre.

The government is also likely to reduce significantly the price of high octane blending component (HOBC), consumed in luxury vehicles, by Rs6.06 per litre. This petroleum product is not used on a large scale and is only produced by Pak Arab Refinery Company (Parco).

The price of light diesel oil (LDO), which is used for industrial purposes, is expected to fall by Rs2.10 per litre.

After the price revisions, petrol will cost Rs108.45 per litre compared to Rs106.72 earlier, HOBC Rs131.9 per litre compared to Rs137.96, kerosene oil Rs101.63 per litre compared to Rs104.68, HSD Rs113.30 per litre compared to Rs113.77 and LDO Rs97.17 per litre compared to Rs99.27.

CNG price in region-I, comprising Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, will rise to Rs99.28 per kg from Rs97.69 and in region-II, covering Sindh and Punjab, the price will be Rs90.70 per kg from Rs89.25.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2012.

Petrol price goes up by Rs6.82/litre from tomorrow

ISLAMABAD: The ministry of finance has approved the proposal forwarded by Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) seeking an upward revision in the prices of petroleum products with the exception of diesel.

According to the approval, the price of petrol has been raised by Rs6.82 per litre while diesel price cut down by Rs1.75 a litre with effect from September 17 (Monday), under the weekly mechanism to review the prices of POL products.

The price of High Octane Blending Content (HOBC) has also been raised by Rs1.50 a litre and kerosene oil by Rs0.62.

A jump in international oil market, which rose by $2 per barrel from $113 to $115 lately, has been imputed to this probable hike in local petroleum products prices.

View the original article here

Petrol price likely to go up from Monday

ISLAMABAD: Petrol prices are expected to increase by Rs 1.75 per liter whereas a price cut is expected in other petroleum products from Monday 24th September under the weekly modification of petroleum product prices.

Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) has sent summery to Ministry of Petroleum in this regard.

According to the summery, Petrol price would go up by Rs.1.75 per litre.

Meanwhile, diesel would go cheaper by 20 paisa, Kerosene oil and light diesel by Rs.1.50 and HOBC Rs.4.40.

The formal announcement would be made on Sunday.

Petrol price likely to go up next week

ISLAMABAD: Petrol prices are expected to increase by Rs 1.5 per liter whereas a price cut is expected in other petroleum products from 24th September under the weekly modification of petroleum product prices.

The increase in petrol price might affect the CNG prices and it might go up by a rupee.

According to sources from the Petroleum Ministry prices of crude oil in the international market has decreased by $2 per barrel but an upward trend is expected in petroleum prices.

The sources also said diesel, Kerosene oil and High Octane are likely to get cheaper.

CNG strike against price hike tomorrow

Dealer­s ask govt to take back price review powers from OMCs.  Dealers ask govt to take back price review powers from OMCs.

ISLAMABAD: Compressed natural gas (CNG) station owners have announced that they will stage a strike on Friday against the increase in gas prices and pressed the government to take back powers of determining oil prices from the oil marketing companies (OMCs), accusing them of making hefty profits in a deregulated market.

Speaking at a press conference here on Wednesday, All Pakistan CNG Association Chairman Ghiyas Paracha expressed doubt over the way prices were being determined by Pakistan State Oil (PSO), which also led to increase in CNG rates.

“In one month, PSO has jacked up the price of petrol by Rs21 per litre, resulting in increase in CNG rates by Rs17 per kg,” he said. In the past two months, the price of CNG has gone up by Rs25 per kg.

He asked the government to either regulate oil prices or deregulate CNG prices, like liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and petrol, to create a competitive environment which would provide relief to the people.

Paracha alleged that the OMCs had been making hefty profits after the government allowed them oil price determination on a weekly basis. “The oil price review every week is not acceptable as it is only benefitting the OMCs,” he said.

He claimed CNG was one of the largest tax-paying sectors, but the government treated it in a bad way. According to him, the CNG industry is paying Rs70 million per day on account of gas infrastructure development cess.

“This industry was using 9.1% of gas, but due to load-shedding the consumption has come down to 6.8%.”

Paracha pointed out that gas distribution companies were sending bills on a monthly basis compared to the weekly oil price reviews and said this had created problems for the whole CNG industry.

He announced that if the issues were not resolved the industry’s stakeholders would stage a sit-in in front of the office of Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) to press for their demands.

He underscored the need for the billing procedure of gas companies to be accurate and meter reading switched to weekly basis. He also called for reducing the cess rate.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 20th, 2012.

Petrol price goes up by Rs6.82/litre from tomorrow

ISLAMABAD: The ministry of finance has approved the proposal forwarded by Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) seeking an upward revision in the prices of petroleum products with the exception of diesel.

According to the approval, the price of petrol has been raised by Rs6.82 per litre while diesel price cut down by Rs1.75 a litre with effect from September 17 (Monday), under the weekly mechanism to review the prices of POL products.

The price of High Octane Blending Content (HOBC) has also been raised by Rs1.50 a litre and kerosene oil by Rs0.62.

A jump in international oil market, which rose by $2 per barrel from $113 to $115 lately, has been imputed to this probable hike in local petroleum products prices.

Petrol price hits new peak with Rs6.82 increase

CNG prices propor­tionat­ely increa­sed; Light Diesel Oil and High Speed Diesel witnes­s slight declin­e. CNG prices proportionately increased; Light Diesel Oil and High Speed Diesel witness slight decline.


Only after a week’s respite to the consumers, the government has yet again decided to increase the petrol prices by Rs6.82 per litre, to bring it in line with the global oil prices.

The new oil prices represent the third weekly revision during September.

Following the review, the petrol prices which saw a decline last week will be available at Rs106.72 per litre, reflecting an addition of Rs6.82 to its former price. On the other hand the prices for High Speed Diesel (HSD) will witness a slight decline in its prices. It will be available at Rs113.77 per litre from September 17.

Similarly, kerosene price has been increased to Rs104.68 per litre. The rate of High Octane Blending Component (HOBC), used in luxury vehicles, will also face a hike of Rs1.50, making it available at Rs137.96 per litre.

After the review the Light Diesel Oil (LDO) prices will witness a slight decline. The new prices for LDO will be Rs99.27.

The prices of jet fuels witnessed a surge across the board. The price of JP-1 is increased by Re0.58 per litre taking the price to Rs94.25, JP-4 by Re0.77 making it Rs86.37, and JP-8 by Re0.58 making it available at Rs93.94.

Marking the hike in the petroleum prices, the Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) prices will also face an increase. The new CNG prices in Region-I which includes areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), Balochistan & Potohar Region (Rawalpindi, Islamabad & Gujarkhan) will be Rs97.68 per kilogramme (kg) whereas CNG will be available at Rs83.55 per kg in Region-II which includes areas of Sindh and Punjab (Excluding Potohar Region).

Published in The Express Tribune, September 17th, 2012.

OGRA notifies biggest ever hike in petrol price

ISLAMABAD: In its weekly revision the Oil & Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) has notified the change of petroleum products prices taking effect from September 17 (Monday) by 12:00 AM, Geo News reported.

Earlier, the ministry of finance gave go-ahead to the proposal forwarded by Oil and Gas OGRA seeking an upward revision in the prices with the exception of diesel.

According to notification, the price of petrol has gone up by Rs6.82 per litre while diesel down by Rs1.75 a litre.

The price of High Octane Blending Content (HOBC) is also up by Rs1.50 a litre and kerosene oil by Rs0.62.

The price of kerosene oil has also gone dearer by Rs0.62. Its new price would now be Rs104.68 a litre.

In region-I, which includes Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtukhwa and Pothohar, the prices of CNG have been raised of Rs6.26 per kg while in region-II, which includes Sindh and Punjab, CNG by 5.71 rupees per kg.

A jump in international oil market, which rose by $2 per barrel from $113 to $115 lately, has been imputed to this probable hike in local petroleum products prices.