The national average price of petrol and diesel rose in January for the third month in a row and is now at a four-year high, according to RAC Fuel Watch.
Unleaded increased 1.34p at the pumps to 122.24p a litre while diesel went up 1.56p to 125.04p a litre. This means the price of petrol has increased 4p a litre since October 2017 when it was around 118p. Diesel has gone up 5p a litre, rising from around 120p in October to 125p. Petrol is now at its highest point since late November 2014 and diesel the highest since early December 2014.
The average price charged by the big four supermarket fuel retailers suffered a bigger rise at 2p a litre, taking the average price of a litre of supermarket petrol to 119.76p and diesel to 122.45p.
The retail fuel price rises have been sparked by a 2% increase in the price of oil, albeit somewhat softened by a more recent 5% boost in the value of the pound to $1.42 on 31 January. Drivers in Wales have been only marginally affected by the changes although they are paying slightly more than before.
RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said, “The start of 2018 hasn’t been good for motorists as they’ve had to endure their third consecutive monthly increase at the pumps. Both petrol and diesel are now at their highest points for more than three years which is bound to be making a dent in household budgets.”
Filling a 55-litre family car with petrol now costs £67.23 whereas the diesel equivalent is more expensive at £68.77. This is in stark contrast to the cheapest point of 2017 in July when a tank of unleaded was £4.35 cheaper and a diesel fill-up was £5.51 cheaper.
Simon Williams added, “There is a glimmer of hope that some of the heat in the forecourt price of fuel could cool in February as our current two-week forecast shows reductions of a penny for petrol and two pence for diesel.
“Whether this will filter through at the pumps is questionable as retailers are generally loath to pass on wholesale savings when they consider them to be marginal.
“While the fuel market is very hard to predict at the best of times there is currently even greater uncertainty as the price of oil went through the $70 a barrel mark in January for the first time in more than three years while sterling has strengthened against the dollar making wholesale fuel cheaper as it’s traded in dollars.
“We urge fuel retailers to be fair to motorists and pass on the current savings in the wholesale price of petrol and diesel at the pump. Reflecting downward movement in wholesale prices on the forecourt, however small, is important for retailers as motorists generally believe there is little transparency in the price of fuel, unless of course costs are on the up when they understand all too well they will quickly be paying more to fill up.”