December 2014 fuel price update

Petrol’s drop is third biggest in 25 years

The third biggest monthly fall in the 25-year history of the AA Fuel Price Report

The third biggest monthly fall in the 25-year history of the AA Fuel Price Report

A 6.6p-a-litre crash in UK average petrol pump prices over the past month rivals the collapse in fuel prices during the credit crunch of 2008. It is the third biggest monthly fall in the 25-year history of the AA Fuel Price Report.

Since mid-November, the average price of petrol has dropped from 122.93p a litre to 116.32p, a reduction of 6.61p. Over the past month, the average price of diesel has fallen 5.27p, from 127.43p a litre to 122.16p.

The biggest petrol price crashes

The top five monthly petrol price crashes in the last 25 years were:

  1. 11.5p a litre
    October to November 2008
    106.4p down to 94.9p
    Oil at around $65
    Caused by the credit crunch.
  2. 7.9p a litre
    August to September 2006
    98.2p down to 90.3p
    Oil at around $63
    Caused by the end of the Lebanon conflict.
  3. 6.6p a litre
    November to December 2014
    122.9p down to 116.3p
    Oil at around $60
    Caused by OPEC reaction to oil glut
  4. 6.5p a litre
    September to October 2008
    112.9p down to 106.4p
    Oil at around $69
    Caused by the credit crunch
  5. 6.3p a litre
    July to August 2008
    119.5p down to 113.2p
    Oil at around $113
    Caused by the credit crunch.

Monthly savings

With a car being refuelled typically twice a month, monthly petrol costs for a standard 55-litre fuel tank have dropped £7.26. The cost of diesel for an 80-litre van fuel tank is down £4.22 compared to a month ago.

After a relatively stable petrol wholesale price from mid-October to mid-November, a 2.1p-a-litre fall in the last two weeks of November and a significant 6.2p fall in the last fortnight creates the potential for another 2p to 3p-a-litre fall at the pump. This began with Wednesday’s (17 Dec) announcement by supermarkets of an up to 2p-a-litre price cut this week.

Asda value

However, when comparing average prices between brands, Asda continues to give a clear 1.5p advantage over its competitors for both petrol and diesel. At street level, it means that drivers in Asda towns continue to enjoy cheaper prices while supermarkets in other towns charge up to 3p a litre or £1.50 a tank more for their fuel.

Possibility of £1 litre is remote

The possibility of the average petrol pump price falling below £1 a litre in the near future remains remote. Fuel duty + VAT alone accounts for almost 70p a litre. A further 5p to 10p for retailer/suppliers margins + VAT, leaves wholesale +VAT needing to be around 20p to 25p.

With wholesale petrol including VAT currently at around 33p a litre, the wholesale price would need to fall at least a quarter for the average petrol pump price to approach the £1 mark – with a further hefty fall in the oil price to help make that happen.

Market experts have told the AA that this would require oil to drop to around $40 a barrel, a third lower than now.

A family with two cars will receive a £15 or more boost to their spending power in December

Edmund King, AA president

Boost to spending

“A family with two cars will receive a £15 or more boost to their spending power in December. Some will take the chance to shore up family finances that have been under pressure for more than five years while others turn up the thermostat this winter. Hundreds of thousands, though, will siphon the savings into their Christmas shopping and the high street holds its breath to see how much it will benefit,” says Edmund King, the AA’s president.

£3million a day

“A 6.6p-a-litre drop in the price of petrol releases a potential £3 million-a-day switch of consumer spending from fuel forecourts to other businesses. It will also lower the cost of transporting goods, hopefully also to be passed on to customers.

“However, the parallels with the 2008 crash, albeit that was a market in freefall while this one has been engineered by OPEC and could be stopped anytime, carry a warning from the ghost of Christmas past. In 2009, a new year brought a new assessment of the market and pump prices started to rise again on 5 January.”

National and regional

Across the UK, at an average of 116.1p a litre, the South West has pipped other areas for selling the cheapest petrol. In contrast, East Anglia’s average is a full penny dearer to make it the most expensive. Diesel is cheapest in Northern Ireland at 121.8p a litre, with Scotland dearest with an average of 122.7p.

(19 December 2014)

Fuel price data supplied by Experian Catalist

Wholesale price data provided by


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