Double pain at pumps as fuel prices head towards record levels

Warning of more forecourt price increases as some filling stations continue to struggle with supplies

Motorists are facing “double pain” at the pumps as fuel prices rise amid ongoing shortages and experts warn of more increases to come.

The RAC has said that petrol and diesel prices are now approaching all-time highs and changes in the wholesale price of oil could push them to record-breaking levels before the end of the year.

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The latest figures from the group’s Fuel Watch service show that even before the fuel crisis started in late September prices were increasing and over the course of the month petrol rose 1.5p per litre while diesel jumped 2.5p per litre.

That makes petrol 22p a litre more expensive than a year ago at 136.83p and diesel 21p more costly, at 139.25p. Filling up an average tank is now around £12 more expensive than a year ago.

Although a small number of forecourts have been accused of ramping up prices during the current supply crisis, the RAC’s fuel spokesman Simon Williams said the current rise had been caused by a 10% increase in the wholesale price of oil over the last month.

He warned that with producers limiting supply, that wholesale price was likely to rise further, bringing with it extra costs at the pump.

Mr Williams said: “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. 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.”

If wholesale prices do reach such levels, Mr Williams warned petrol prices could reach as high as 143p per litre - higher than the previous record average of 142.5p, which was recorded in April 2012.

Diesel could reach almost 148p, just 3p off the record high from April 2021.

Mr Williams said that at the peak of the fuel crisis, the RAC’s crews attended 13 times as many out-of-fuel breakdowns as they would do typically in a single day, although calls have now fallen back to twice as many.