Despite enormous price rises in the last few years, an Office of Fair Trading report into the UK's fuel market found it is 'working well'.
Pump prices are rising yet again. The wholesale cost has risen almost seven per cent since Christmas alone. Now they want answers.
The Office of Fair Trading has delighted some by asking for evidence to see if consumers are being ripped off by petrol companies.
From today motorists will be able to buy cheaper petrol at supermarkets, following cuts in the price of supermarket diesel announced last week.
Asda, Sainsbury's, Morrsions and Tesco will reduce their prices, with Morrisons cutting up to 3p a litre off petrol and 1p a litre off diesel.
RAC technical director David Bizley said: "Certainly, these price cuts will be widely welcomed by UK motorists and it is encouraging to see that the drop in the wholesale price of fuel is being passed on."
Motorists will be able to buy cheaper petrol tomorrow after four leading supermarkets announced they were cutting prices.
Here are the cuts:
- Asda are reducing the price of petrol by 2p a litre. Diesel continues at 137.7p a litre.
- Sainsbury's also announced a petrol cut of up to 2p a litre.
- Morrisons will cut petrol by 3p a litre and 1p a litre off diesel.
- Tesco is bringing in a cut of up to 2p a litre.
AA president Edmund King welcomed the cuts, he said: "We predicted these cuts last week, with oil down to its lowest level in a month and the pound gaining on the dollar after its recent fall.
"This is perhaps another glimmer of sunlight for drivers after a hard, wet, pot-holed and expensive winter of driving."
Petrol sales have plummeted in the last five years, the AA have said.
In 2007, forecourts sold 22.87 billion litres of petrol but the annual figure had slid to 17.42 billion litres by 2012, Government statistics have highlighted.
Diesel sales, though, have risen slightly over the last five years, going up from 14.80 billion litres in 2007 to 16.73 billion litres in 2012.
Looking at the most recent years, the figures showed that the 2012 petrol total of 17.42 billion litres compared with 18.27 billion litres in 2011.
Diesel sales rose from 16.24 billion litres in 2011 to the 2012 figure of 16.73 billion.
Taking petrol and diesel sales together, fuel stations sold 37.67 billion litres of fuel in 2007 but only 34.16 billion litres in 2012.
The AA said that the decrease was equivalent to 35 days of fuel sales being lost since the start of the credit crunch.
Read: Petrol price rises again
Since the beginning of the year, petrol has risen around 8p a litre and diesel has gone up 6.5p.
- The cheapest petrol can be found in northern England and in Yorkshire and Humberside, averaging around 139.3p a litre
- The most expensive area for petrol is Northern Ireland at 141.1p a litre
- Northern Ireland is substantially more expensive than the next dearest at 140.5p a litre in south-east England
- The South East is also the most expensive for diesel, at 147.1p a litre
- Yorkshire and Humberside is the cheapest for diesel at 145.7p
The average price of petrol has reached the 140p-a-litre mark again, the AA has said.
Both petrol and diesel prices are now short of their all-time highs reached last year, with diesel now at an average of 146.38p a litre.
Supermarkets, however, have cut the price of fuel this week, and it is thought that Chancellor George Osborne will announce in his budget next week, that he is scrapping autumn's planned fuel duty rise.
Petrol and diesel consumption has dropped by a fifth since the start of the credit crunch, according to a new analysis by the Office of National Statistics.
The analysis shows households are struggling to cope with the near doubling of vehicle fuel prices in the past decade.
Spending on vehicle fuel per head per quarter increased from £84 to £130 from 2002 to 2008. Since then average spends have dipped, despite rising petrol prices, falling to a low of £103 in 2009.
ONS figures showed that the quantity of petrol purchased has fallen 18 per cent since 2007.
Andrew Pendleton, head of campaigns at Friends of the Earth said fuel efficiency and the economic crisis could not explain the long term decline in car journeys or a growing lack of appeal that motor vehicles held for young people.
He said: “There is strong and building evidence that car use has peaked not just in the UK but the US, France, Germany and other developed nations.
"The decline is most marked in younger people whose status is defined by different sorts of technology. They want iPads and iPhones rather than a car."
Mr Pendleton made the comments while speaking to The Independent.
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:
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."