'Not enough fuel for demand': Fears petrol and diesel prices are on 'upwards trajectory'

The most recent costs from the RAC Foundation show the price of petrol to be 147.59p per litre, surpassing the previous high of 2013 by almost eight pence per litre. Similarly, diesel has also hit an all-time high price in the UK with a litre now setting drivers back 150.76p.

With fuel prices increasing for the 10th week in a row, drivers are concerned that if prices continue to rise further, petrol and diesel could set them back hundreds extra per year.

As the prices continue to rise, industry experts are concerned that the volatility of prices may continue in the coming months.

At the start of the coronavirus lockdown in March and April 2020, some fuel forecourts across the UK saw petrol prices drop to around £1 per litre.

Over the last 12 months, the average cost of petrol and diesel has increased so much that it is now approximately £19 more expensive to fill a typical 55-litre family car.

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Paul Holland, Managing Director for UK Fuel at FLEETCOR, said petrol prices would continue to be unstable, hitting drivers pockets the hardest.

Speaking with Express.co.uk, he said: “Although hopefully another bout of ‘irrational exuberance’ at the pumps won’t happen for the foreseeable future, it is likely to be the case that fuel prices are going to be unsteady for some time ahead, but that their general trajectory will be upward.

“When COVID-19 reached pandemic status in February of last year there was naturally nervousness around fuel prices.

“Fuel had been produced but there was a significant drop in demand, including one bizarre moment in April of 2020 where the price of a barrel of crude had dropped to negative $36 (-£27) dollars and fuel traders were paying people to take it off their hands.

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“Since then, it has risen sharply, surpassing the 2019 average of around $60 (£45).

“All indications point to the price of crude either levelling out at this point or reaching earlier peaks of $100 (£75) to $110 (£82) per barrel.

“Although the price you pay at the pump won’t have the drastic swings that you see in the global oil market, the price of crude along with many other factors will directly affect the day-to-day cost of fuel.” 

Previously, the RAC and other motoring organisations have called on the fuel retailers to help drivers by cutting prices.

It cited research which showed four-in-10 drivers said they would be forced to cut other household spending as a result of rising prices.

The research also revealed that one-third of drivers are already driving less because of the high costs of petrol and diesel.

Mr Holland continued, saying: “Today, we seem to have reached a situation that is the reverse of early 2020 – we now have too much demand and not enough supply.

“With lockdowns hopefully becoming a distant memory, commuters returning to their offices and most industries back to near full capacity, demand is up.

“While nobody expects major swings of the kind we saw in early 2020, we can look forward to a steady rise in the price of fuel that will be reflected at the price you and your company pay at the pump.

“The current record high may be exceeded, but we forecast not by much. As always in uncertain times in the fuel industry, it is important to stay close to the market, and if you’re managing a fleet then you must manage consumption closely.

“Make sure your fuel card providers and organisations are set up to see what vehicles are using and what your drivers are spending as this is key to navigating the changing fuel price arena.”

At the end of October, during the Autumn Budget, Rishi Sunak said he had frozen fuel duty until 2023 as a result of rising prices on both petrol and diesel, as well as other household costs which have been increasing.

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