February ended three consecutive months of petrol and diesel price increases with 2p a litre coming off the average price of both fuels during the course of the month, said RAC Fuel Watch.
The average price of unleaded dropped to 120.14p from 122.34p and diesel to 122.86p from 125.08p following two major cuts from Britain’s ‘big four’ supermarkets made within days of each other.
This was in response to calls for cuts from the RAC (8 Feb & 15 Feb) due to the falling price of both fuels on the wholesale market, which was itself triggered by a fall in the oil price. The cost of a barrel of Brent crude ended February 4% lower than at the start at $65.66 having dropped to a near three-month low of $61.46 in the middle of the month (13 February).
The fall in the oil price was caused by both an unexpected increase in fuel stocks in the United States and the reopening of the major Forties oil pipeline in the North Sea which had been closed for unplanned maintenance – with it open again, nearly half a billion extra barrels of oil a day are made available to the market.
RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said, “After a succession of fuel price rises taking petrol to its highest level in three years in January, motorists finally saw a reversal of fortune in February as a result of a lower oil price which made some significant cuts at the pumps possible.
“We commended the supermarkets for responding swiftly to our calls for pump price reductions, not least because we know what impact their pricing can have on other fuel retailers.
“But we do understand how much harder it can be for smaller retailers who don’t buy as frequently as the supermarkets to cut their prices as a result of sudden or short-term wholesale price changes. However, we are aware of some smaller retailers who pride themselves on having very low prices.”