The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has defended its investigation in to petrol pricing saying that it lacked information:
The Office of Fair Trading carried out a call for information on UK road fuels, the findings of which were published in January of this year.
As part of this call for information, the OFT asked for evidence on whether speculation or manipulation of oil spot and futures markets or inaccurate oil or wholesale road fuel price reporting could be leading to higher pump prices.
The OFT stated these issues could potentially raise serious concerns but no credible evidence was submitted to the OFT in response to the call for information.
The European Commission has confirmed on May 14, commission officials carried out several unannounced inspections in a number of countries at the premises of companies active in and providing services to the crude oil, refined oil products and biofuels sectors.
The investigation is being conducted by and is a matter for the European Commission, and the OFT is currently assisting the commission with its inspections in the UK.
– Office of Fair Trading statement
In January the OFT found that price rises were driven by tax rises and the hike in the oil price, and said it found "very limited evidence" that retailers were not passing on drops in the wholesale price to drivers quickly enough.
A Conservative MP blasted an Office of Fair Trading (OFT) inquiry into petrol prices as "limp-wristed and lettuce-like" in the wake of price-fixing allegations.
Harlow MP Robert Halfon, who has campaigned for cuts to duty and greater transparency in the market, said despite the Commons unanimously calling for a thorough probe into petrol pricing, the regulator failed to spot any of the allegations currently under review.
Mr Halfon said: "Do you not agree that what happened was the OFT carried out a limp-wristed, lettuce-like inquiry when they should have done a full 18-month inquiry into what has been going on?"
Energy Secretary Ed Davey defended the OFT as an "independent body, a strong body", which has powers to determine its own investigations.
Mr Davey made a statement updating MPs on the launch of a European Commission investigation into oil companies BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Norwegian company Statoil.
RAC technical director David Bizley said the allegations were "worrying news for motorists" who are already suffering due to the high cost of keeping a vehicle:
The Office of Fair Trading inquiry concluded at the end of January that the UK fuel market was operating fairly and not against the best interests of motorists, and therefore that a Competition Commission investigation was not needed.
Motorists will be very interested to see what comes of these raids. Whatever happens the RAC will continue to campaign for greater transparency in the UK fuel market and for a further reduction in fuel duty to stimulate economic growth.
Conservative MP Robert Halfon who has led a campaign calling for a full investigation into alleged cartels and market manipulation in the oil market for the past three years, said:
Last year, in a debate that I pressed for, Parliament voted unanimously for an investigation into the oil market.
These latest allegations underline why that must happen urgently in the UK.
High oil prices are crushing families across Britain. Motorists are being taken for a very expensive ride.
The Government has done its bit, by freezing fuel duty for three years. Now oil companies must come clean and show some responsibility for what is happening to the international oil price.
Mr Halfon told BBC Radio 4's Today programme anyone found guilty of price fixing should face jail and oil firms should expect hefty fines:
Clearly there has been a problem, there needs to be a full inquiry.
The Government needs to say, anyone caught doing this, there should be prison for price fixing and there should be huge multimillion-pound fines on any oil company found guilty and that money should be passed back to the motorist.
The sharp rises in fuel and oil prices we've seen recently have raised huge concerns about what is really driving them.
The oil market isn't transparent or accountable enough. There is an urgent need for a powerful and independent watchdog to ensure that there's no market manipulation and that UK families and businesses pay a fair price for their fuel.