Fuel prices fall under OFT scrutiny
According to the watchdog, the UK retail road fuels sector is estimated to be worth around £32bn. Petrol prices rose by 38% between June 2007 and June 2012, and diesel prices by 43% over the same period.
Claire Hart, director in the OFT’s Services, Infrastructure and Public Markets Group, said: “We are keenly aware of continuing widespread concern about the pump price of petrol and diesel and we have heard a number of different claims about how the market is operating.
“We have therefore decided to take a broad based look at this sector, to provide an opportunity for people to share their concerns and evidence with us.
“This will help us determine whether claims about competition problems are well-founded and whether any further action is warranted.”
The OFT will explore a number of claims about how the road fuels sector in the UK is functioning, including:
• whether reductions in the price of crude oil are being reflected in falling pump prices
• whether supermarkets’ and major oil companies’ practices may be making it more difficult for independent retailers to compete with them
• whether there is a lack of competition between fuel retailers in some remote communities in the UK, and
• whether concerns about price co-ordination and the structure of road fuels markets identified by other national competition authorities are relevant in the UK.
The OFT will be gathering information over the next six weeks, and plans to publish its findings in January 2013. It is inviting the industry, motoring groups and consumer bodies to submit information.