Fuel prices on the rise

After eight months of falling pump prices RAC Fuel Watch data has revealed the average price of petrol rose three pence a litre in March.

The rise follows an increase in oil price which increased to over $40 a barrel for the first time since 4 December last year. The cost of a barrel of oil increased eight per cent from $35.91 on 3 March to $38.70 at month end causing the first upward shift in forecourt petrol prices since July 2015. At the start of March the average price of a litre of petrol was 101.91p but by the close it was 105.26p.

The wholesale price of petrol, including VAT, increased six pence a litre from 97.13p to 103.19p, suggesting that the pump price is likely to go up again in the coming weeks.

Supermarket fuel prices, which are traditionally the lowest in the country, also went up. At the start of March, the average supermarket price of a litre of petrol was 99.88p but by month end a litre cost 102.19p – a rise of more than two pence.

Worryingly, RAC Fuel Watch data for March shows diesel forecourt prices also increased by 3.7p a litre – 101.56p to 105.26p – even though the wholesale price only rose by 1.5p a litre (98.12p to 99.59p). RAC suggests tis indicates that retailers are once again either using the lower diesel wholesale cost to subsidise the price of petrol or using it as a means of increasing their profit margin.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said, ‘The good times for motorists enjoying lower fuel prices had to come to an end at some point, but unfortunately it’s happened with a bit more of a bump than motorists were probably expecting. With an important oil production meeting scheduled for mid-April, more bad news at the pumps may be on the horizon.’