Petrol touches decade-high figure

Cars queue up to fill up with petrol at the gas station during a fuel shortage. (iStock image)

The price of petrol at UK pumps has passed £1.40 a litre, the highest point in almost a decade, compounding the immense pressure on consumers.

The cost of filling the tank has grown by more than a quarter in a year in Britain, compounding misery for consumers facing higher energy bills and food price increases, and adding to inflationary pressures that could in turn prompt higher interest rates.

According to AA figures, the average price of unleaded petrol is 140.22p a litre, with diesel at 143.42p. Average forecourt prices were last this high in September 2012, and are 2.5p a litre from the all-time high in April of that year when global oil prices soared.

Rapidly increasing wholesale oil prices along with supply chain crises have hit forecourts on multiple fronts. After the queues for fuel and shortages reported over the last few weeks, petrol is once again largely freely available. However, it is costing an average 5p a litre more than in September.

The Petrol Retailers Association on Oct 10 had warned that higher prices at the pumps would quickly ensue after motorists emptied many stations, leaving stocks low or non-existent. The body, which represents independent forecourts, stressed that price rises were not down to any “profiteering” by retailers during the panic-buying crisis but were because of global factors.

Oil prices have been driven by major producers including Russia and the OPEC countries reducing output while the major global economies are recovering at a fast rate after the pandemic, PRA said, adding that in just over 12 months, pump prices in the UK have surged by over 25ppl hitting consumer pockets as higher inflation bites.

Brent crude oil has doubled in price over the last 12 months, from $42 (£30.50) in October 2020 to $84. The pound has weakened slightly against the dollar in recent months, making it more expensive again for UK retailers.