Prices for petrol and diesel are back on the rise, with the cost of filling an average family car increasing by as much as £2 per tank in just three weeks, new figures from the RAC’s fuel watch have suggested.
Over the last three weeks, the cost of petrol increased by 3.2 pence per litre to t total of 143.4p, while diesel jumped up by 4 pence per litre to 152p.
The rise comes despite the recent overall trend for petrol prices, which dropped over the last three months to below 140 pence per litre for the first time since October 2021. Retailers have been trading above $80 a barrel for the last four week, having traded “well below that” for the previous seven weeks.
The RAC says the price increases are due to rising oil prices, plus the impact of attacks on vessels travelling in the Red Sea from Houthi rebels, which are forcing tankers to take longer journies. But there are also other reasons for the leap in prices.
“The Red Sea attacks by Houthi rebels, which are forcing tankers to avoid the Suez Canal and instead go round South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, are clearly playing their part, but so have global refinery maintenance closures, the start of America’s driving season and UK retailers buying more fuel stocks ahead of the Budget to protect against a possible fuel duty hike by the Chancellor,” said Simon Williams, fuel spokesperson for the RAC.
The RAC also said drivers are still losing out due to retailers taking a bigger margin. Prices on supermarket forecourts, for example, stood at an average markup of 10 pence per litre last year, compared to a 6p markup in 2019.
“Despite these factors, we ought not to see forecourt prices go up too much more from where they are today, but a lot depends on how much margin the biggest retailers decide to take,” said Williams,
“Positively for drivers, supermarket margins are lower than they were in January, but they are still significantly higher than they were prior to the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”
Back at the start of the year, supermarket fuel retailers hit back at claims customers were being left shortchanged due to increased petrol prices.
The Gordon Balmer, executive director of the PRA, said retailers were “operating in a dynamic market, consistently striving to provide fair and competitive prices to consumers.”
It also claimed that its “retailers remain steadfast in their commitment to ensuring customers receive the best deals possible”.
Northern Ireland best on prices
For several months, Northern Ireland has provided the lowest prices for both petrol and diesel. Petrol and diesel are 5ppl cheaper than the UK average, at just 135.28ppl and 144.2ppl.