UK petrol prices have hit their highest level in almost eight years amid growing demand for fuel as economies emerge from pandemic lockdowns.
The price of petrol went up by 3.4p per litre in July – the biggest increase since January and the ninth monthly rise in a row, figures from motoring body the RAC showed. This lifted the average price of a litre of unleaded to 135.13p, the highest since late September 2013.
A driver filling up a 55-litre car with petrol now pays £11.47 more than a year ago, according to the RAC, which warned that motorists face “relentless rises” at the pumps this summer, pushing up the cost of holidaying in Britain.
“Prices really are only going one way at the moment – and that’s not the way drivers want to see them going. With a second summer staycation in full swing, it’s proving to be a particularly costly one for many families who are using their cars to holiday here in the UK,” said RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams.
Diesel prices also rose last month, increasing by 2.7p to 137.06p per litre, the highest since 2014.
The fuel price increases follow a rise in oil prices this year, as a result of confidence over the economic recovery as Covid-19 vaccinations were rolled out and tight supplies as the Opec group and its allies slowly relaxed production curbs introduced early in the pandemic.
Brent crude hit three-year highs near $78 per barrel early last month, but have dropped back below $72 this week, because of concerns that the spread of the Delta variant could slow the global recovery. But the RAC fears that, without producers pumping more, fuel prices could continue to rise.
“Right now it’s hard to see what it will take for prices to start falling again. While we’re not past the pandemic by any means, demand for oil is likely to continue to increase as economic activity picks up again, and this is likely to have the effect of pushing up wholesale fuel prices, costs which retailers are bound to pass on at the pumps,” said Williams.
“Unless major oil-producing nations decide a new strategy to increase output, we could very well see forecourt prices going even higher towards the end of the summer.”