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Fuel prices static despite surging oil prices 

Fuel prices remained almost unchanged in November despite a sudden rise in the price of oil.

The average price of a litre of unleaded across the UK at the end of November fell by 0.19p to 114.33p while diesel dropped by 0.22p to 117.63p

Last month saw a barrel of oil shoot up $10 to $46 – a 27% monthly rise and a price not seen since early March, data from RAC’s latest Fuel Watch report shows.

But despite this, the average price of a litre of unleaded across the UK at the end of November fell just slightly (0.19p) to 114.33p from 114.52p at the start of the month. Diesel dropped by a similar amount from 117.85p to 117.63p (0.22p).

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said the surge in the price of oil was caused by news of a number of viable coronavirus vaccines, but added that drivers had been spared a pump price hike due to the fact retailers had been “sitting on accumulated wholesale petrol price savings of around 5p a litre for a number of weeks”.

He continued: “This saving has now been all but taken up by the unleaded wholesale price jumping by more than 3p a litre in November.

“The situation for diesel drivers is even worse as pump prices were around 7p a litre more expensive than they should have been, meaning retailers should have passed on some of this to drivers with a sizeable cut. Instead they decided to make bigger margins, presumably to make up for lost revenue due to the reduction in driving caused by the pandemic. With the diesel wholesale price increasing by nearly 4.5p in November retailers are even less likely to pass on the extra 3p of margin they’re still benefiting from.”

The cost of petrol at the four big supermarkets also remained virtually static in November, with the figure of 109.20p down by just under half a pence a litre (0.39p) – while diesel reduced by a penny a litre (1.06p) to 112.66p.

Williams added that it’s looking like the price of oil has plateaued for the time being.

“As a result, we really shouldn’t see unleaded rising above its current price of 114p a litre, and diesel from 117p, over the next fortnight at least.

“But if the oil price was to continue rising you can bet your bottom dollar that as soon as the current wholesale price savings are completely absorbed retailers will be very quick to pass on any increased costs they incur to drivers at the pump,” he suggested.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.