2 March 2012
The average prices of petrol and diesel in the UK set new records
The average price of petrol in the UK reached 137.44p a litre on 2 March 2012.
Diesel too has been setting new daily records since the weekend of 26 February 2012, when it reached 143.96p a litre and has since climbed to 144.67p.
Diesel previously peaked at 143.04p a litre on 5 May last year – the pump price fell back to 137.59p in July before starting to climb again. Two years ago, the price of diesel in the UK averaged 113.62p a litre.
For a commercial van with an 80-litre fuel tank, the cost of filling up has risen from £90.90 in February 2010 to £115.73 now. The cost was £110.07 last July.
A stronger pound has staved off this moment for longer than might have been expected, but drivers across the country will have been watching in trepidation as oil prices rise
Edmund King, AA president
The average price of petrol was 112.03p a litre two years ago and set a new record of 137.43p on 5 May 2011. It then fell to 132.25p a litre at the turn of the year before climbing to the new peak of 137.44p a litre on 2 March 2012.
"A stronger pound has staved off this moment for longer than might have been expected, but drivers across the country will have been watching in trepidation as oil prices rise. They hoped that below-record prices would hold at least until the spring when winter price pressures traditionally ease, particularly on diesel," says Edmund King, the AA's president.
The impact of record fuel prices will be felt by everyone as higher transport costs are passed on to business and consumers. Some delivery and haulage firms add a diesel surcharge to invoices, so costs will rise faster than most people expect and stoke inflation again.
There is no price transparency in the wholesale and retail fuel market. The diesel price increase has been influenced by refinery closures, unreliable supply into Europe, and stock market speculators taking advantage of a tight market – businesses and consumers are unable to find out whether they are paying a fair price.
Mr King adds: "It is galling to see Brent crude shoot up from around $112 a barrel last February to $128 on 1 March, despite the International Energy Agency's lower forecasts for oil consumption in 2012. With trouble in the Middle East one of the causes, the pattern of oil pricing is looking to mirror last year's – once again inflated by stock market speculation.
"The difference is that, from last year's experience, we know the consumer can't take it."
The AA has written to the Chancellor calling for an investigation of the oil, refining, fuel product and retail markets to ensure UK families and business are protected from over-inflated prices and supply difficulties.
The letter also calls for an end to annual fuel duty hikes while the economy falters. This includes cancelling the planned rise in August.
First published 17 February 2012. Page updated 2 March 2012.
Fuel price data supplied by Experian Catalist.