It is not the greedy petrol stations but the insatiable appetite for tax of Governments, past and present, that has been blamed for the high cost of filling up at the pumps. But the authorities also blamed the cost of crude oil, much of it produced by the companies that own the filling stations.
The Office of Fair Trading investigated the petrol industry, and found that before tax, fuel here is amongst the cheapest in Europe.
Yet, once duties are included, motorists here pay more than almost anywhere else.
The Petrol Retailers Association, that represents independent forecourt retailers in the UK, has criticised the Office of Fair Trading's decision to not proceed with a full market study into the UK retail fuels sector.
This was a prime opportunity, supported by considerable new information from our retailers, to tackle market manipulation of UK wholesale prices and retail prices by the big players.
The establishment has once again turned a blind eye to the need for a full Market Study which would have unmasked the market manipulators, provided proper transparency and helped our economic recovery.
– PRA Chairman Brian Madderson
How can the OFT, supported by Government, try and tell motorists and businesses that the market is working in the consumer’s interests?
Campaign group FairFuelUK has tweeted:
How can this be fair? Fairfueluk’s Massive Disappointment in OFT Findings and Recommendations .... http://t.co/PlD3dti0
Edmund King, President of the Automobile Association, has said he is "disappointed" with the Office of Fair Trading's finding that the fuel market is "working well".
He told ITV News:
"We're disappointed in this report, yes we know there's competition in the market, there's bound to be with four big supermarkets.
"But what there isn't is transparency on prices and this is what motorists get fed up about.
"A simple thing they could have recommended is that the wholesale price has to be published alongside the retail price and then drivers can make up their own mind whether they're getting a fair price at the pumps."
We recognise that there has been widespread mistrust in how this market is operating.
However, our analysis suggests that competition is working well, and rises in pump prices over the past decade or so have largely been down to increases in tax and the cost of crude oil.
Our call for information has not identified any evidence of anti-competitive behaviour in the fuel market at a national level, where competition appears to be strong.
– OFT chief executive Clive Maxwell
There may be some issues at a local level. Where we receive evidence of potential anti-competitive behaviour we will consider taking action. For example, we have recently opened an investigation into the supply of road fuel in the Western Isles of Scotland.
The Prime Minister's official spokesperson was asked whether the PM was disappointed at the Office of Fair Trading's report into fuel prices.
She said it was for the OFT to look at the issue, adding that they have made it clear that if there is further evidence of alleged price fixing, they will look into it and take action.
But for now, the Department of Energy and Climate Change is considering its response to the OFT's report.
The Office of Fair Trading report found that, pre-tax, the UK has some of the cheapest road fuel prices in Europe.
The AA has said that drivers will be "bitterly disappointed" by the findings of the Office of Fair Trading report into the UK fuel market.
The Office of Fair Trading said its investigation into the UK fuel market identified a lack of pricing information on motorways as a concern and it not rule out taking action in some local markets if there was "persuasive evidence of anti-competitive behaviour".
In August 2012, prices were on average 7.5ppl higher for petrol and 8.3ppl higher for diesel than at other UK forecourts.
Competition is "working well" in the UK road fuel market and rises in pump prices over the past decade are largely due to increases in tax and the cost of crude oil, according to an Office of Fair Trading report.
It found "very limited evidence" that pump prices rise quickly when the wholesale price goes up but fall more slowly when it drops.