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October fuel price update

Fuel price lottery could mean £4.50 loss or saving per tank

16 October 2009

Monthly petrol price rise is second highest ever, warns AA

Large fuel price variations between towns and along major UK routes are making careful planning of fuel stops on commuting and long-range trips essential, the latest AA Fuel Price Report reveals. Drivers could save or lose up to £4.50 a tank extra depending on where they refuel.

Although the average price of petrol is just above 105p per litre, many major towns are selling fuel at 101.9 – a saving of £1.50 a refill. On the flipside, some motorway service stations are charging 112.9/111.9p per litre while three miles down the road petrol sells at 103.9 – a difference of up to 9p or £4.50 a tankful. However, at Magor services on the M4 in Wales, petrol cost 106.9 yesterday.

Between mid-September and now, the average UK price of petrol fell from 106.33 pence per litre to 105.07 while diesel has dropped from 107.10 to 106.24. The petrol-diesel price gap has opened up again to more than a penny.

Wholesale prices collapsed from $680 a tonne in mid-September to $575 by the end of the month. This should have reduced petrol prices by 3.5p a litre, but only about half of the saving was passed on. Wholesale prices have now recovered to around $630 a tonne, although average petrol prices continue to hover around 105p a litre for the moment.

Comment

"Commuters whose daily trips take them to towns with cheaper fuel can cash in by filling up there, and other drivers on long-distance trips should plan their fuelling stops to avoid the expensive areas. For those stuck in towns where retailers are happy to keep their prices higher, frustration will begin to grow, as it did in 2007," says Edmund King, the AA's president.

"A weaker dollar and signs of economic recovery have increased market speculation in commodities, propelling the cost of oil to a new high for the year. However, oil and gasoline reserves are expected to grow: figures in late September showed that the US had more surplus gasoline than at the start of its peak-demand motoring season. For drivers, pump prices failing to reflect glutted global petrol supplies simply rekindles the old anger."

Regionally, there is a 1.8p-a-litre or 90p-a-tank difference between the cheapest and most expensive parts of the UK for petrol. Drivers in the North West and Yorkshire/Humberside are enjoying average petrol prices of 104.2p a litre while Londoners have to pay 106.0p. For diesel, Northern Ireland is most expensive at 106.9 while prices in the North West average 105.2.

View the full AA Fuel Price Report »

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27 October 2009
(Price data provided by Experian Catalist)