Outrage as petrol prices rise by 22p during pandemic

·3-min read
Fuel supply chains have been accused of 'ripping off' drivers. Photo: Reuters
Fuel supply chains have been accused of 'ripping off' drivers. Photo: Reuters

Petrol prices are 22p per litre more expensive than a year ago, but in 2020 the fuel supply chain took advantage of falling prices and “ripped off the UK’s 37 million drivers”, FairFuelUK has said.

It explained that last year when oil prices fell 37.39% in sterling compared to the 12 months prior, wholesale petrol price fell by 14.29% and pump prices fell by just 9.68%.

This meant a "staggering 48.4% increase in fuel supply chain profits” as average filling up profits for petrol rose from 9.3p ($0.13) per litre to 13.8p, it found.

Similarly, wholesale diesel price fell by 13.7% but pump prices fell by just 10.06%, which the organisation said increased supply chain profits by 25.71%.

It estimates average filling up profits for diesel rose from 12.2p per litre to 15.3p.

Chart: FairFuelUK
Chart: FairFuelUK

“It is worse than stomach-churning that the fuel supply chain has knowingly used COVID to rip off UK’s 37 million drivers,” said Howard Cox, founder of FairFuelUK.

“To exploit a national crisis and screw the world's highest taxed drivers, to line their pockets is scandalous. For decades, wholesalers have ripped off drivers at will, but this time they have reached a new low.”

He said small independent garages who have suffered with lack of forecourt trade were not at fault but blamed “those greedy faceless unchecked businesses further up the fuel supply chain that must be subject to government scrutiny.”

Read more: Petrol prices hit two-year high as oil prices surge

“When oil prices rise and fall, millions of drivers have absolutely no idea what they will subsequently pay at the pumps. It is never, ever the same price,” he added.

FairFuelUK said it wants an independent ‘pump pricing’ watchdog endorsed by the government, with petrol, diesel and autogas wholesale prices movements made transparent and published daily.

Looking forward, FairFuelUK predicts oil will continue to rise and could potentially hit $75 (£53) a barrel in the next month because of the demand for oil increasing as the world comes out of lockdown. At the time of writing, brent futures (BZ=F) were down 0.7%, trading at $71.

Brent futures ticked lower on Tuesday afternoon. Chart: Yahoo Finance UK
Brent futures ticked lower on Tuesday afternoon. Chart: Yahoo Finance UK

“Much will depend on how the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies (OPEC+) manages demand in order keep supply prices high as they crave for. Once commercial normality in the western world returns, oil prices will settle, we believe, at about $65 for the remainder of 2021,” it said.

Last week, petrol and oil prices hit a two-year high as OPEC+ agreed to continue relaxing curbs on oil production.

UK car insurance provider RAC said May was the seventh consecutive month to experience a rise in the price of petrol – which is now 22p per litre more expensive than a year ago. This was the biggest 12-month increase seen in 11 years, the company said.

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