UK petrol prices to stay steady despite global oil price slump

RAC says motorists likely to miss out on cheaper fuel as filling stations try to stay afloat

British motorists are likely to miss out on petrol prices below £1 a litre despite an unprecedented oil market crash triggered by the coronavirus lockdown.

The price of petrol could fall from £1.10 a litre to 98p after the collapse of global oil prices. But the RAC motoring group said it expected petrol forecourts to try to hold their prices to help them stay afloat during a slump in sales of petrol and diesel due to lockdown restrictions on travel.

The global oil price has plummeted to 18-year lows, and in the US it has turned negative for the first time, as demand has been battered by restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19 .

petrol price graph

Simon Williams, a spokesman for the RAC, said: “In theory petrol prices could fall below £1 per litre if the lower wholesale costs were reflected at the pumps – but at the same time people are driving very few miles so they’re selling vastly lower quantities of petrol and diesel at the moment. This means many will be at pains not to trim their prices any further.”

There is particular concern over the future for smaller forecourts which serve areas where there are few supermarket filling stations. “It would be bad news all round if these forecourts shut up shop for good,” Williams said.

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The steady petrol prices have ignited anger at FairFuelUK, which has claimed that the price of petrol and diesel were too high before the impact of the coronavirus crisis, and has called for an independent pricing watchdog to oversee pump prices.

The lobby group claims that forecourts are making profits of 20.5p a litre of petrol and 18.9p on diesel after a steady fall in global market prices since January this year. Those profit levels are well above the 13.6p and 14.6p for petrol and diesel respectively at the start of the year, according to the group’s analysis.


Jillian Ambrose

The GuardianTramp

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