Drivers experienced a “severe shock” after the price of diesel shot up in October amid the fallout from the Opec+ oil cartel’s decision to cut production, the RAC has said.
The price of diesel rose by 10p a litre to 190.5p on average – the third worst monthly increase on record, behind previous increases this year, data from the motoring group showed.
The RAC said a full tank of diesel rose by more than £5 to £105 as prices threatened to creep towards the all-time high of 199.09p a litre in late June.
The data showed the price of petrol increased, although less than diesel – up by nearly 4p a litre from 162.67p to 166.38p. That meant a full tank costs £2 more at £91.51.
Britons had experienced an easing in prices at the pump over the past three months, after sustained record prices earlier this year as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine pushed up the cost of oil.
However the Opec+ oil cartel and its allies agreed to a bigger than expected cut in production targets of 2m barrels a day last month, provoking a clash with the US president, Joe Biden.
The decision, led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, sent oil prices sharply higher, up from about $89 a barrel to almost $95. Prices peaked a $138 a barrel in March in the immediate aftermath of the start of the war and remained above $100 in spring and early summer, putting pressure on the pumps.
The record prices triggered claims that fuel retailers were profiteering and the Competition and Markets Authority raised concerns over the margins made by oil refineries.
The fall in the pound as a result of the political turmoil in Westminster last month also made wholesale petrol and diesel – which is traded in dollars – more expensive.
The RAC fuel spokesperson, Simon Williams, said: “After three months of falling pump prices, October was a severe shock to the system for drivers with the unwelcome return of some scary numbers on forecourt totems.
“The fear now, particularly for diesel drivers, is whether the average price of a litre is heading back to that record of 199.09p which made a full tank cost more than £109. Looking at the wholesale market we strongly hope the price should stabilise.”
Williams urged drivers to shop around for the best price, and not assume that traditionally low-priced supermarkets would be the cheapest.
RAC data showed that the members-only retailer Costco was the cheapest place to fill up. It sold a litre of petrol at an average of 154p and diesel 176p – 12p and 14p lower than the UK averages.
The Opec+ decision angered Biden, who had hoped to persuade Middle Eastern countries not to curb supplies to limit fuel prices rises and soaring inflation.