UK petrol prices to hit all time high by Christmas, warns RAC

·3-min read
UK petrol prices to hit all time high by Christmas, warns RAC
The average price of a litre of both petrol and diesel rose in September to make a tank around £12 more expensive than a year ago, according to RAC fuel watch data. Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Reuters

UK petrol prices edged closer to all-time highs as the fuel delivery crisis ramps up a gear in the UK. 

The average price of a litre of both petrol and diesel rose in September to make a tank around £12 ($16.28) more expensive than a year ago, according to RAC fuel watch data, which also shows the average price of petrol has gone up for 10 out of the last 12 months.

Unrelated to the current troubles at the pumps, unleaded went up 1.5p to 136.83p while diesel rose by 2.5p to 139.25p. This makes petrol 22p a litre more expensive than a year ago — prices stood at 114.61p on 30 September 2020. Diesel is 21p dearer, compared to 118.10p a year before.

Both average prices are moving ever closer to the record highs of April 2012, with fuel now at prices last seen eight years ago in autumn 2013. Petrol is now only 5.65p off the all-time high of 142.48p and diesel 8.68p off the record of 147.93p.

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“As life moves ever closer to normal as the world gets to grips with COVID-19, demand for oil is outpacing supply, and with producer group OPEC+ deciding on Monday not to release more oil, the barrel price has now broken through the $80-mark for the first time in more than three years," said RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams.

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"This looks likely to spell further misery for drivers at the pumps as we head towards Christmas, especially as some analysts are predicting the price could even hit $90 before the end of the year."

Those filling a 55-litre family car with petrol at the end of September would have paid £75.26 — up 85p in September and £12.22 on 12 months ago. A full tank of diesel is now £76.59 — up £1.40 in September and £11.63 more than a year ago.

The rise at the pumps has been driven not by the delivery crisis but by a 10.65% increase in the price of oil from $71.29 to $78.88 throughout September, the RAC said.

Despite the dour predictions by the RAC, the Petrol Retailers Association said on Tuesday that the situation may be improving. 

“Fuel supplies are levelling up across the rest of the country — 86% of sites report having both grades of fuel thanks to steady deliveries and stabilising demand, 3% having only one grade and 11% are dry," said Gordon Balmer, PRA executive director.

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“Members are reporting they are now receiving deliveries from military drivers using commercial tankers, however further action must be taken to address the needs of disproportionately affected areas.”

The findings come from a survey of 25% of all independent petrol stations in Great Britain carried out on Tuesday by the PRA.

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