MAY SAW the steepest rise in fuel prices for nearly two decades, according to new research by the RAC.
The breakdown service found that the average price of petrol rose to 129.41p per litre last month, up 6p per litre from April and a rise of nearly 13p on the March average.
Diesel prices rose at an even faster rate: the 6.12p per litre increase between April and May meant diesel car owners needed to fork out 132.39p per litre when filling up.
With such a swelling in fuel prices, costs are mounting up for motorists. Filling up a 55-litre family car rocketed to £71.18p in May – a rise of £3.29 in a single month.
According to the RAC data, motorway service stations – already some of the most expensive fuel retailers – saw the biggest price hikes, with an above-average 6.37p per litre rise for petrol, making it 144.75p a litre. At that price, filling a 55-litre tank would set back drivers back £79.61p.
In contrast, supermarkets such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons were apparently able to absorb some of price rises, with an average cost passed on to drivers of petrol cars being 5.49p per litre.
The difference meant that drivers of petrol cars filling up at a supermarket rather than a motorway services would have saved an extra 44p per tank in May, compared with the previous month.
The RAC described the hikes as a “hellish month for motorists”.
Fuel spokesman Simon Williams added that motorists have been “besieged” by pump prices over the last three months.
He said: “The rising oil price together with a weaker pound is a punitive combination for anyone that drives regularly.
“For many people there is little alternative to the car for the majority of journeys they have to make, so it is therefore very difficult to avoid feeling the pinch of rising pump prices.”
Oil prices passed the $80-a-barrel mark in May but have since fallen back a little to around $75 a barrel, but it remains to be seen whether petrol and diesel prices will reflect the dip in the month ahead.
What factors influence the price we pay for fuel at the pumps?
These factors that influence the price of petrol and diesel, according to the RAC:
- The global price of crude oil
- Supply and demand for crude oil
- Refinery production and capacity
- The pound to dollar exchange rate, as refined fuel is sold in US dollars per metric tonne
- Distribution costs
- The margin fuel retailers decide to take
- Fuel duty charged by the Government, currently 57.95p a litre
- VAT (20%) charged at the end of every forecourt fuel transaction
The company notes that while the fuel duty rate and VAT stay largely static, prices rise and fall because factors such as the oil price and dollar-to-sterling exchange rate can be volatile.