Drivers facing record petrol price surge

Fuel prices, again, look set to head north. The AA has warned fresh fuel price highs could be hit within the next four weeks. The price worry is also exacerbated by concerns that the Government may foist a 7p-per-litre tax on motorists in the New Year.

In the last six weeks alone, £10 has been added to the monthly petrol costs of a two-car family in the UK.

Price pressure

In the past month, the AA says, average petrol prices have risen 3.34p a litre, from 132.18p a litre in mid July to 135.52p now. Diesel is up 3.19p a litre, averaging 140.45p a litre compared to 137.26p in mid July. Price rises that go hard against claims from the Bank of England that inflation pressures are easing.

Last year a litre of diesel was around the 140.32p mark. Petrol a year ago averaged 136.18p, just 0.66p a litre higher than now. Fuel prices moved into record territory at the end of February this year surging past the 2011 records (petrol 137.43p, diesel 143.04p) before peaking at all-time highs in April with petrol at 142.48p and diesel at 147.93p, according to figures from the motoring organisation.

"Following July's surprise increase in inflation, the new surge in pump prices will stoke the rise further and potentially any increase in fuel duty. Compared to this summer's low-point for UK fuel prices - 1 July - UK drivers are now spending £4.85 million a day more on fuel."

Yorkshire wins, Wales loses

Across the UK, Yorkshire and Humberside are the cheapest areas for petrol with an average of 135.0p a litre. London's position as third cheapest (135.2p) suggests the Olympics continued to provide an unexpected fuel price bonus for businesses and residents, the AA thinks.

Wales and the South West top the price table at 140.9p a litre while drivers in Yorkshire and Humberside are paying an average price of 140.0p.

"Once upon a time," says Paul Watters, the AA's head of Public Affairs, "petrol prices would rise heading into the summer, due to higher demand for the motoring season, and then fall away late summer onwards. The cost of diesel would then pick up heading into winter as demand for heating oil came into play."

"These days, demand appears to be increasingly irrelevant – it doesn't matter how much drivers cut back, the commodity markets always seem to find a reason for pumping up oil and wholesale prices."

Meanwhile Reuters reports that Britain may ask the International Energy Agency (IEA) to take action to deal with high oil prices. The UK energy ministry and its international partners have not made any decisions to release stocks, a ministry spokesman told the agency.

AA stats

Summer price swings – financial impact
Cost of 50-litre petrol refill:
Now (135.52p/ltr) - £67.76
Record high (16 April – 142.48p/ltr) - £71.24
Summer low (1 July – 130.81p/ltr) - £65.41

Cost of 80-litre commercial van diesel refill:
Now (140.45p/ltr) - £112.36
Record high (12 April – 147.93p/ltr) - £118.34
Summer low (1 July – 136.12p/ltr) - £108.90

Monthly petrol cost for two-car family:
Now - £287.76
Record high - £302.54
Summer low - £277.76

UK daily fuel spend (from Q3 2011 data):
Petrol (49.99 mil ltrs per day)
Now - £67.75 million
Record high - £71.23 million
Summer low - £65.39 million

Diesel (45.90 mil ltrs per day)
Now - £64.47 million
Record high - £67.90 million
Summer low - £62.48 million

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Drivers facing record petrol price surge

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