UK fuel prices: why petrol and diesel costs are rising and will they go down soon?

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Drivers hit with ‘severe shock’ as three months of falling prices halted by sharp rise in wholesale costs for petrol and diesel

Fuel prices across the UK increased by as much as 10p per litre in October as three months of falling costs came to an end.

The average price of a litre of diesel soared by 10p to 190.51p, meaning it now costs almost £105 to fill up the 55-litre tank of an average family car - a £5 increase on September. The increase is the third-highest monthly change on record, only exceeded by jumps earlier this year when it rose by 22p in March and 16p in June.

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The price of petrol also increased in October although by a lesser 4p per litre to just over 166p, according to the RAC Fuel Watch service. The average price gap between the two fuels has now stretched to a record high of 24p per litre. Until this year the gap has never been more than 11p.

The RAC’s Simon Williams said restrictions on oil production announced in early October had pushed up the price of raw materials while the continued weakness of the pound against the dollar also contributed to a sharp rise in wholesale fuel costs. The new figures come just days after energy giant and fuel station operator BP reported a doubling of its profits in 2022 to £7.1 billion.

Mr Williams commented: “After three months of falling pump prices October was a severe shock to the system for drivers with the unwelcome return of some scary numbers on forecourt totems. Oil producer group OPEC+’s decision to cut supply by two million barrels a day has cost drivers dear. Oil came perilously close to the $100 mark – something we haven’t seen since late August.

“The fear now, particularly for diesel drivers, is whether the average price of a litre is heading back to that record of 199.09p which made a full tank cost more than £109. Looking at the wholesale market we strongly hope the price should stabilise.”

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Mr Williams added that with the delay between wholesale and retail price changes, owners of petrol cars could actually see costs drop slightly in coming weeks as wholesale petrol prices appear to have peaked in mid-October.

The latest figures revealed sharp differences between regions and retailers. Drivers in Northern Ireland continue to enjoy the lowest average prices, with petrol at 163.56p and diesel 187.66p, while those in the East Midlands paid 167.5p for petrol and Scottish motorists paid 191.7p for diesel.

The RAC figures show that the average price of unleaded at one of the big four supermarkets went up 4p to 165.36p and diesel jumped 9p to 187.54p. Motorway petrol, however, increased nearly 8p to 190.48p while diesel rocketed by 12p to 204.24p.

Mr Williams said: “We strongly urge drivers to make sure they always know where they can buy fuel at the lowest prices. Those who assume their local supermarket will be the cheapest may be in for a nasty surprise as the ‘big four’ are currently only a penny cheaper for petrol than the UK average. Diesel, however, is 3p a litre than the average when bought at a supermarket.

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“We recommend drivers keep an eye on the UK averages on the RAC Fuel Watch website and aim to fill up as far below those prices as possible. The cheapest place to fill up, for those fortunate enough to have membership, is Costco where a litre of petrol costs an average of 154p and diesel 176p – 12p and 14p lower than the UK averages. It’s interesting to see just how low fuel can be sold even at a time of $90 oil and a weak pound.”

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