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Latest petrol and diesel fuel prices

Phill Tromans

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Phill Tromans

Should I buy a diesel car in 2021?

The latest average UK fuel prices, as of the 7th of January 2024, are 140.3p for petrol and 148.22p for diesel, according to the RAC. 

The average price of petrol has continued to fall for the second month in a row, by 6p a litre during December, while diesel dropped by 5p. This takes petrol down to a price last seen in early 2022, before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. However, the RAC says motorists are still being overcharged and accused supermarket chains of taking overly generous profit margings.

The company, which campaigns on behalf of motorists, has for some time called on the UK's biggest retailers to cut the price of petrol to reflect lower wholesale costs, which have dropped towards the end of 2023. Although the Government cut fuel duty by 5p in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the RAC says the move has helped retailers more than drivers – it says the average retailer margin was 13p in a litre for petrol in December, compared to the long-term average of 7p a litre.

The December figures also show that prices on the UK mainland are 5p more expensive than in Northern Ireland

The organisation has called on the government to set up a price monitoring body with powers to take action against big retailers that don't reflect falling wholesale prices.

Why are fuel prices still so high?

Although prices have dropped in the past few months, fuel is still more expensive then it was. The simple explanation is that the cost of a barrel of oil has risen. In 2020 the wholesale price of a barrel of crude oil was around $40. 

At the start of January 2022 the cost of oil was $79 but this had risen to $92 by the end of the month and went above $100 per barrel after Russia (the second largest oil producer in the world) invaded neighbouring Ukraine in February 2022, making traders worried about disruption to the global supply chain. 

The price of oil went on to hit $137.72 a barrel on 8 March 2022 – the highest it has been since 2008, although it fell to $109.98 by the end of the month. 

In August 2022 the price of oil dropped under $100 and finished the month on $90.63 a barrel. Prices cames down further in 2023 and by May, the price of a barrel of oil was down to $72.50. At the end of October, prices were hovering around $90 a barrel by the end of 2023 it had dipped below $80. 

When the price of oil rises, fuel retailers usually pass on the cost to consumers at the pumps although they can absorb some of the increases. However, when wholesale prices fall, retailers are reluctant to pass the savings on.

Indeed, fuel retailers have an important role to play in fuel prices. Competition between the 'big four' supermarkets Asda, Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury's has helped to reduce prices in the past – when one supermarket giant cuts their fuel prices others often follow. 

In 2023, fuel retailers are once again being heavily criticised for not cutting the cost of fuel at the pumps when the price of oil is dropping.

On 15 December 2023, the cost of a litre of wholesale diesel was 112.3p while petrol was 103.8p.

The UK Government has a significant impact on fuel prices. This is because it controls two major components: fuel duty, which is currently at 52.95p per litre, and the standard 20% VAT rate. These two elements together make up the bulk of the price of petrol and diesel.

Fuel duty was frozen from March 2011 to March 2023, bringing some relief for drivers in the midst of rising prices, while the former Chancellor Rishi Sunak lowered it by 5ppl in the Spring Budget 2023

When the Government introduced E10 petrol in England, Scotland and Wales in September 2021 it had an impact on fuel prices as ethanol is more expensive than petrol.

Other factors which influence wholesale prices, according to the RAC, are: oil refinery production and capacity, the pound to dollar exchange rate, as refined fuel is sold in US dollars per metric tonne and distribution costs. 

Average petrol pump price, March 2019 - August 2023 (source: Experian Catalist)
Average diesel pump price, March 2019 - August 2023 (source: Experian Catalist)

What makes up the cost of a litre of petrol?

Breakdown of the average UK price of petrol (140.29p. Source: RAC)

Element

    • Wholesale petrol (90%)
    • Bio content (up to 10%) - E10
    • Delivery and oil company 
    • Retailer margin
    • Fuel duty
    • VAT at 20%

Pence per litre

    • 42.79
    • 6.20
    • 1.70
    • 13.26
    • 52.95
    • 23.38

Percentage of total price

    • 31%
    • 4%
    • 1%
    • 10%
    • 38%
    • 17%

How much does it cost to fill up the average family car?

As of 7 January 2024, it now costs £77.16 to fill up a Ford Focus (55-litre fuel tank) with petrol and £81.52 to fill up with diesel. 

Which is the most expensive place in the UK to buy fuel?

In November 2023, the South East had the highest average diesel and petrol prices, with drivers paying 163.04ppl for diesel and 155.6ppl for petrol. 

Which is the cheapest place in the UK to buy fuel?

Northern Ireland is the cheapest place in the UK to buy fuel. In November 2023 the average price of petrol in Northern Ireland was 150.02p while diesel was 157.48p. 

(Source: RAC Fuel Watch)

How do regional fuel prices compare?

Cost of petrol and diesel in different parts of the UK in November 2023 (source: RAC Fuel Watch)

Area

    • UK average
    • Northern Ireland
    • Scotland
    • Wales
    • North East
    • North West
    • Yorkshire and the Humber 
    • West Midlands
    • East Midlands
    • Essex and East Anglia 
    • London
    • South East
    • South West

Petrol price

    • 146.95
    • 150.02
    • 153.69
    • 154.35
    • 153.78
    • 154.21
    • 153.79
    • 155.01
    • 154.73
    • 155.34
    • 154.92
    • 155.6
    • 154.92

Diesel price

    • 154.4
    • 157.48
    • 161.6
    • 161.55
    • 160.01
    • 160.23
    • 161.35
    • 161.92
    • 161.2
    • 161.57
    • 162.48
    • 163.04
    • 162.31

Where can I find the cheapest fuel prices near me?

Supermarkets, in general, have the cheapest fuel prices. The big four supermarkets – Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury's and Tesco – all lowered prices after the 5p fuel duty cut.  BP-owned and Shell-owned fuel stations also applied the 5p cut (6p including VAT).

However, the gap between supermarket fuel prices and the national average in December 2023 was just 2.7ppl for petrol (with the UK average being 140.29p and the average at supermarkets being 137.51p). The difference in the price of diesel was 2.33p (the average price at supermarkets was 148.22p against a national average price of 145.89p) 

(Source: the RAC) 

What are the average monthly road fuel prices in the UK?

Average monthly petrol and diesel retail prices (source: the AA)

Date

    • January 2023
    • February 2023
    • March 2023
    • April 2023
    • May 2023
    • June 2023
    • July 2023
    • August 2023
    • September 2023
    • October 2023
    • November 2023
    • December 2023

Petrol price

    • 148.8
    • 148.3
    • 147.2
    • 146.9
    • 144.7
    • 143.6
    • 143.5
    • 149.1
    • 155.5
    • 156.2
    • 150.8
    • 141.8

Diesel price

    • 171.1
    • 168.5
    • 165.5
    • 161.1
    • 153.9
    • 145.5
    • 144.4
    • 151.0
    • 159.4
    • 162.6
    • 158.1
    • 149.7

Are fuel prices going down?

Fuel prices in October, November annd December have dropped slightly, after straight months of rises. The latest fuel prices, as of 12th December 2023, are 140.3p per litre for petrol and 148.2p for diesel.

Prices for petrol are now lowere than they were at the start of 2023 – in January, the average price was 148.8p per litre. Diesel has been more unstable – it cost an average of 171.1p in January, and just 144.4p in July.

Prices shot up in August and September, caused by global oil production cuts that drove up the cost of a barrel of oil. Oil prices dropped in October, November and December, but remain reasonably high.