Supermarkets have faced claims they are overcharging customers for fuel
The average cost of petrol at UK forecourts has risen to break 150p a litre for the first time since the start of the year, despite close scrutiny of fuel prices during the cost of living crisis.
The latest increase in pump prices means petrol is now 150.51p a litre, the highest level since early January, and diesel has risen to 152.41p a litre, the AA said.
The motoring group last week accused supermarkets of overcharging customers in rural areas for fuel.
Oil prices rose steadily in recent months because of global production cuts, before easing earlier in August. On Monday, Brent crude rose 1% to $85.66 (£67.24) a barrel as tighter supplies from Saudi Arabia and Russia and high heating oil prices outweighed investor concerns over a potential drop in global demand, particularly in China.
“Wholesale cost increases appear to have peaked for the moment but the fallout from the recent surge is still finding its way to the pumps,” said Luke Bosdet, the AA’s spokesperson on pump prices.
“It is still possible to find fuel stations offering fuel at 4p-5p a litre cheaper than most. The problem is knowing where they are.”
The Competition and Markets Authority said in July that pump prices had risen since 2019 because of “a decision by the traditional price leaders to compete less hard”.
Over the past month, supermarkets have brought prices down by just half a penny when compared with company-branded retailers – but the cost of diesel has gone up by a similar amount.
This month, Asda began publishing fuel prices at its forecourts online, becoming the first retailer to launch such a service after questions about widened profit margins at the pump.
But the energy secretary, Grant Shapps, last month rowed back on plans for a law to force supermarkets to make fuel prices more transparent, instead backing a voluntary comparison scheme in a meeting with bosses from the big retailers.
Bosdet said the voluntary scheme was expected to “be up and running shortly”. He added: “The question is how many retailer brands have signed up?”
Meanwhile, European gas prices jumped by nearly a fifth as Australian workers prepared to strike if no deal is reached in pay talks on Wednesday.
Benchmark Dutch month-ahead gas has risen by as much as 18% to €42.90 (£36.68) a megawatt hour on Monday, with stoppages potentially beginning as soon as 2 September.
The dispute is related to pay and could lead to industrial action if the plant operator, Woodside Energy, does not make a “suitable offer”, unions said.
Chevron plant workers have also been voting on strike action, with the looming possibility of Australian supply disruptions causing concern for European traders this month.
Source : The Guardian