Fuel prices up for third month running but short-term outlook ‘not ominous’
Average fuel prices in the UK rose for the third consecutive month in August, but the increase was slight and prices aren’t expected to rocket back to pre-pandemic levels.
Although fuel prices had been expected to rise quickly as drivers returned to the roads, a litre of unleaded rose by just half a penny in August to 114.88p while diesel was up by a third of a penny to 118.47p. This means both fuels are still 13p cheaper than they were at the end of January, when petrol stood at 128p a litre and diesel was 132p.
Supermarket fuel prices were up very slightly; petrol rose by a third of penny to 109.55p and diesel by over half a penny (0.63p) to 114.17p. As a result, supermarket unleaded was 5.33p cheaper than the UK average, and diesel 4.3p cheaper per litre.
But motorway fuel stayed the same in August, with a litre of unleaded setting drivers back 124.03p and diesel 129.33p. And the difference between filling up at a motorway services is currently only 10p more expensive than the UK average (9.15p – petrol; 10.86p – diesel); considerably lower than January when the gap stood at around 20p a litre.
Moto’s experiment with lower fuel prices could have long-term gains too. The motorway service station operator, which is the largest in the UK, announced in July that it was had cut fuel prices at three sites o just above supermarket averages, with a view to introducing lower prices across its 47-strong network. The RAC said the trial won’t have gone unnoticed by its competitors so there’s a chance that service station prices may be lower than they would otherwise have been.
RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams added that the short-term outlook for pump prices generally does not appear ominous for UK drivers despite a blip in the oil price at the end of August.
“The cost of a barrel of oil rose dramatically due to fears of a hurricane affecting supplies in the Gulf of Mexico, but fortunately there was no adverse impact to production as the hurricane was downgraded to a tropical depression and refineries were spared massive flooding,” he explained.
“Our pump price forecast for the next fortnight shows petrol should come down by a penny while diesel ought to fall by around 5p a litre if retailers play fair and reflect the downward movement in the wholesale price properly.”