‘Uncertainty’ over petrol and diesel prices

July saw the return of rising pump prices at the forecourt, with both petrol and diesel edging up by around 1p a litre, new RAC Fuel Watch data shows.

Data shows that it was supermarkets that increased their prices the most in July, largely cancelling out the price cuts that they introduced just a few weeks earlier in June.

The price of an average litre of supermarket unleaded was up 1.64p to 125.34p, while diesel was up 1.62p to 128.88p.

Motorway service areas, which tend to charge to the most for fuel, increased the price of a litre of petrol by 1.19p to 146.09p, but left diesel almost unchanged at 148.14p.

Across the UK, it now costs drivers on average £70.84 to fill up a 55-litre family-sized petrol car (up 59p on June), and £72.52 for a similar diesel model (up 57p on June).

There is a high degree of volatility in wholesale fuel prices at the moment, as a result of the sharply fluctuating oil price which, after starting the month at just under $77 a barrel, fell to $70 on 17 July before recovering again to $74 by the end.

A number of factors have contributed to the price changes – while OPEC’s announcement that its member countries will begin pumping more oil had the effect of pushing prices down, these are now being offset by both the ongoing tensions between the US and Iran over its nuclear deal, and with China over trade and the threat of tariffs which can force prices up.

RAC spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “The volatility of the price of a barrel of oil, and in turn wholesale fuel prices, makes it difficult to determine where prices might go next.

“The announcement in June by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) that its member countries would be increasing oil production could have been a trigger for further price falls, but the complicated disagreements between the United States – another big oil producer – and Iran and China are making prices go the other way.

“The result is a great deal of uncertainty on what might happen with UK fuel prices in the coming weeks.”

Fortunately for UK drivers, the pound remained stable against the US dollar – which is important as fuel, like oil, is traded in dollars. A weakening pound means it costs more for retailers to buy fuel in, which in turn tends to mean higher prices at the pumps.

See-saw pricing – what has happened to UK pump prices since the start of the year

  Petrol prices through month Diesel prices through month
July ▲ Up ▲ Up
June ▼ Down ▼ Down
May ▲ Up ▲ Up
April ▲ Up ▲ Up
March ▬ Unchanged ▬ Unchanged
February ▼ Down ▼ Down
January ▲ Up ▲ Up

Regional fuel price variation

Regional average unleaded pump prices

The largest increase in unleaded prices was in Scotland, although it is still on average more expensive to fill up in the south east of England compared to every other part of the UK. The north east remains the cheapest place to buy petrol, and was also the region with one of the smallest price increases through July.

Unleaded (ppl) 01/07/2018 31/07/2018 Change
UK average 127.72 128.8 +1.08
Scotland 126.85 128.67 +1.82
East Midlands 127.51 128.78 +1.27
South West 127.81 129.06 +1.25
East 128.07 129.22 +1.15
London 128.31 129.45 +1.14
Yorkshire And The Humber 127.15 128.26 +1.11
West Midlands 127.24 128.29 +1.05
Northern Ireland 126.91 127.93 +1.02
Wales 127.46 128.42 +0.96
South East 128.75 129.68 +0.93
North East 126.93 127.83 +0.9
North West 127.30 128.04 +0.74

Regional average diesel pump prices

Scotland also saw the largest price increases when it came to diesel. The south east is the most expensive place to fill up with the fuel, while the north east ranks as the cheapest place to buy diesel compared to every other part of the UK.

Diesel (ppl) 01/07/2018 31/07/2018 Change
UK average 130.82 131.85 +1.03
Scotland 130.57 132.1 +1.53
East 131.15 132.48 +1.33
South West 131.00 132.02 +1.02
South East 131.57 132.56 +0.99
Wales 130.63 131.61 +0.98
West Midlands 130.39 131.34 +0.95
East Midlands 130.77 131.71 +0.94
London 131.33 132.26 +0.93
North West 130.76 131.68 0.92
Northern Ireland 129.72 130.63 +0.91
Yorkshire And The Humber 130.13 131.04 +0.91
North East 130.39 131.14 +0.75

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