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Petrol prices at highest in two years after seven months of rising prices

Emma Lunn
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Emma Lunn

Petrol is now more than 22p a litre more expensive than a year ago – the biggest 12-month increase seen for 11 years.

Data from RAC Fuel Watch shows that unleaded petrol went up by more than 2p a litre (2.24p) in May to 129.27p, while diesel also increased by a similar amount (1.95p) to 131.59p.

The price of petrol has increased by 15.5p a litre since November 2020, the last month that saw the average price of petrol fall.

Diesel is now almost 20p dearer than at the end of last May (19.73p) after a 14.4p hike in the past six months alone.

The 22p surge in the price of petrol followed a litre dropping to an average of just 106p (105.81p) on 21 May 2020 on the back of oil plunging to $13.21 a barrel at the beginning of the pandemic. Petrol last rocketed by this amount over a 12-month period in May 2010.

At a price of 129.27p a litre unleaded is now more expensive than it was at the start of 2020 prior to the pandemic. Diesel, however, at 131.59p still hasn’t surpassed the 132p a litre it reached at the end of January 2020.

This means a full tank for a 55-litre family car will set drivers of petrol cars back £71.10 and diesel cars £72.37 – about £8 more than before the non-stop rises began in November.

Buying fuel at a forecourt run by one of the four major supermarket chains will currently save drivers about 4p a litre with the average price of petrol standing at 124.83p and diesel 127.36p. The average increase in the cost of supermarket fuel mirrors the UK rise which the RAC says is not surprising as, since the pandemic, they are now responsible for selling 60% of all the fuel in the UK.

Filling up on the motorway will set drivers back 146.78p for petrol and 149.59p for diesel after 2p and 1.6p rises in May.

Simon Williams, RAC fuel spokesman, said: “After a weekend which saw millions of cars take to the roads to enjoy a sunny bank holiday and a half term away from home the price of filling up with petrol has unfortunately reached its highest point in just shy of two years.

“After seven consecutive months of rising prices drivers will be wondering if the increases are ever going to end. We’ve now witnessed the biggest petrol price rise in any 12-month period since May 2010 when unleaded rocketed from 99p a year earlier to 121p.

“As always, the future of fuel prices is hard to predict more than a few weeks in advance and even more so now as the pandemic appears to have altered the dynamics of fuel retailing, with the supermarkets having an even greater stranglehold on the market.

“Looking at the wholesale price of both fuels, in normal circumstances unleaded definitely shouldn’t be continuing to rise with the numbers actually pointing to the potential for a 2p reduction. And diesel is currently 4p too expensive which suggests retailers are using the saving in the wholesale price to help make up for lower fuel sales over the last year.”