The Prime Minister said today the leaked emails which claim to show BP managers purposefully hiking prices north of Wellington to persuade cheaper rivals to follow suit, is sure to raise eyebrows of consumers.
Jacinda Ardern was asked by media today if she thought the tactics were "fair" she said "certainly motorists won't look upon it as fair".
In response to a rival's significantly lower petrol price in Levin, emails obtained by Stuff are said to show rather than lower their price in nearby Otaki by up to 20 cents a litre, BP managers instead agreed to hike prices at all their BPs in the area, expecting their rivals to follow suit.
"What's been revealed today probably wouldn't surprise some motorists, but to hear so blatantly that pricing decisions are being made that sit outside the price of crude oil, that sit outside the exchange rate, that sit outside, for instance, operating costs, will no doubt be raising eyebrows with consumers."
"It certainly raised eyebrows with [Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods], which is why she's called [BP] in for a meeting."
Ms Woods said the leaked emails were "concerning".
The Prime Minister said the government need to "hear the explanation from BP", and then would consider options from then onwards.
Ms Ardern said they had already seen a need for the Commerce Commission to be able to conduct market studies, but this possible incident "adds greater impetus over why we want to undertake that work".
"That's why we want the Commerce Commission to be in a position to undertake this kind of work, because that would also compel those in the industry to provide the evidence that is required to really get a sense of what is happening between these companies, but across the country as well.
"We do need to have a comprehensive look, because... [BP] may not be in breach of our existing legislative framework, but Kiwis will rightly be saying, 'this doesn't feel fair'."
BP responded today, defending their actions.
"Petrol prices in New Zealand are highly competitive and we adjust our prices in response to local competition, particularly in instances where discounting has become unsustainable, which is what occurred in the lower North Island last year," BP said in a statement.
"We believe competition on price will remain a key characteristic of the New Zealand fuel market in the coming years.
"Because the New Zealand fuel market is already highly competitive we actively manage our prices on a daily basis to remain competitive, as well as provide the best possible customer service offering.
"We currently have more than NZ$1billion worth of capital invested in New Zealand, with further investment an ongoing priority.
"Our investment decisions are made with the goal of supporting growth at both a national level and in regional areas across the country.
"We know our customers have a choice so while we may not always be the cheapest in the market our objective is to ensure our total site offer is the best possible."