May Fuel Price Report

Highest monthly rise for diesel this century

21 May 2008

Average UK diesel prices for May have suffered their highest month-on-month increase this century, according to the latest AA Fuel Price Report . Hikes in the cost of petrol are the second highest since 2000.

Between mid April and mid May, the price of diesel has shot up 6.76 pence per litre, from 117.41 to 124.17 pence per litre. This has added £3.38 to the cost of filling a typical 50-litre fuel tank. The previous record rise, of 5.6 pence per litre, was between October and November last year.

The average price of petrol has leapt 4.49 pence per litre in the past month, from 108.06 to 112.55 pence per litre, adding £2.25 to the cost of a refill. This narrowly misses the 4.6-pence record monthly increase in petrol prices between March and April 2006, which followed a $10 increase in the cost of oil.

Much of the rise has come in the past 10 days, following an 11 per cent increase in wholesale prices. Since Tuesday (12 May), the price of petrol has risen 1.73 pence and diesel 2.66 pence.

A significant gap has opened up between what supermarkets charge for fuel and the price at non-supermarket outlets. Comparing average prices by brand, supermarkets are 2.5 pence cheaper for petrol and more than four pence less expensive for diesel.

London remains the most expensive region to buy petrol, 1.7 pence more expensive than Yorkshire and Humberside, the cheapest. The Grangemouth dispute and panic-buying associated has had little effect on the average price of petrol in Scotland, although the diesel is at least a penny more costly than northern English regions. In Northern Ireland, where prices last month were amongst the highest in the UK, strong media scrutiny of pricing has left the price of car fuel at the cheaper end.

"The price rises in recent days were of a magnitude only exceeded in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when the price of petrol rose almost 3.5 pence in a week. With many UK families embarking on their holidays next week, the timing could hardly be worse," says Edmund King, the AA's president.

"What alarms us most is the stream of comments coming from the industry and producers saying that oil is over-priced - the finger of blame being pointed at market speculators. Oil prices have doubled since last year and this is not just due to strong demand from China and other nations. While huge profits are made in the financial centres, an increasing number of car-owners are becoming desperate and businesses suffer from the hit on consumer spending."

See the full AA fuel price report for May »

AA Public Affairs - the voice of UK motorists


21 may 2008