The sale of the New Zealand Caltex chain from US energy giant Chevron to Z Energy is another example of the exodus of multi-national oil companies from the New Zealand market, an AA spokesman says.
Z Energy today signed a $785 million agreement to acquire Chevron New Zealand's Caltex service station network and has announced it will raise $185 million in new capital from shareholders that will go towards funding the purchase.
The acquisition is subject to approval by the Overseas Investment Office and Commerce Commission, which is expected to take a few months.
Read more: Z Energy buys Caltex NZ chain for $785m
AA PetrolWatch spokesman Mark Stockdale said it remained to be seen how the sale would affect petrol prices.
"This is part of an ongoing trend in the New Zealand fuel market which has seen a substantial overhaul in the last seven or so years, really since the GFC."
Multi-national oil companies had been exiting the New Zealand market as operating a wholesale and retail fuel businesses here was no longer seen as particularly worthwhile, Stockdale said.
"New Zealand is a very small country, the fuel market is a mature market [and] it is not increasing.
"Demand for petrol is static and diesel is only growing slightly."
Shell had already left the New Zealand market to be bought by Z Energy and Mobil had been trying to sell its New Zealand operations without success and had instead resorted to trying to sell off its service stations one by one, Stockdale said.
The sell-offs came on the back of a period of very low margins for fuel companies operating in New Zealand, he said.
"For the size of our market, we do have a lot of competition. At the moment there are four national retailers and a fifth smaller one in the form of Gull in the North Island.
"We don't know what it means in terms of Z's acquisition of Chevron, but we understand that they will keep the Caltex brand as a separate chain.
Although Z was taking over the supply of fuel to Caltex stations, as they were independently owned Z would not be taking over their day-to-day retail operations, Stockdale said.
"From the motorist's point of view, it may be business as usual. Motorists won't actually notice much difference.
"Those service stations set their own prices anyway, so there'll still be an element of price competition.
"The concern that we have though is that as a wholesaler, Z will actually be supplying nearly 50 per cent of the retail market."
However, while BP remained in the fuel market, Z would have a large competitor to keep them in check, Stockdale said.