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Diesel 17p more per litre than petrol despite oil price falls

By Tom Gibson | April 4, 2023

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Diesel is being sold for about 17p per litre more on average than petrol, according to a recent report by the RAC, despite similar wholesale costs.

Diesel 17p more per litre than petrol despite oil price falls

The average diesel price is £1.64 per litre, compared to £1.47 per litre for petrol, while both are priced at about £1.15 wholesale.

We’ve been reporting on this issue for a while and the RAC described the difference as “scandalous” and claimed that cuts in the wholesale price had not been passed on to customers.

The fuel spokesman for the RAC, Simon Williams, said that, given the amount wholesale prices had dropped, forecourts should have already reduced pump costs for diesel to about £1.52, and a further cut to £1.47 in the coming weeks should feed through.

Retailers, including supermarkets and private retailers, buy fuel on the wholesale market to sell to consumers. And although supermarkets and independent sellers purchase fuel differently, with supermarkets buying fuel more frequently, Mr Williams said that larger supermarkets had been given “plenty of time” to pass on lower prices to customers.

Andrew Opie, director for food at the British Retail Consortium, which represents supermarkets, said that retailers understood the cost pressures facing motorists and would do everything they could to offer the best value-for-money across petrol forecourts.

However, the RAC criticized retailers for taking a margin of nearly 20p a litre on average throughout March, compared to the long-term average of 7p.

The report also noted that fuel costs surged in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as global oil prices soared to more than $130 a barrel, although crude oil costs have now returned to pre-war levels.

An ongoing competition investigation is examining whether retailers made greater profits through so-called “rocket and feather” pricing, which sees fuel prices rise as wholesale costs rise, but then fall more slowly than costs come down.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) watchdog said in its latest update it had seen some evidence of this in 2022, particularly for diesel pricing.

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