As the fuel crisis continues to cause problems at filling stations, data shows that petrol and diesel prices have rocketed over the last year – and could get even worse.
Pumps have been left dry across the UK following a surge in demand as consumers rushed to fill their tanks amid reports there was a shortage of drivers to deliver petrol and diesel to forecourts.
Drivers are now being warned that fuel prices could reach record levels, even if the current crisis ends.
The RAC said average prices may hit 143p per litre for petrol and 145p per litre for diesel in the next few weeks. That is up from the current level of 135p per litre for petrol and 138p per litre for diesel.
Fuel prices have experienced a rollercoaster ride in the past few years.
Average UK fuel prices appear to have stabilised in the last few days despite the long queues and pump closures, but as the chart below shows, prices have gone from £1.05 a litre at the height of the pandemic to £1.38 this week.
The graph shows fuel prices fell drastically in March last year after the coronavirus pandemic hit.
Fuel consumption dropped significantly as the UK government announced tight restrictions on movement and ordered people to stay at home.
Diesel sales nosedived according to official data, from 12,000 litres per day in sampled filling stations in mid-March last year to 1,400 litres a month later, while petrol sales fell from 7,000 to 1,100 litres in the same period.
In December, fuel prices started to rise again due to oil producers making cuts and the market speculating on increased demand when vaccines were approved and rolled out.
In June, fuel prices eventually returned to pre-pandemic levels as the UK posted the fastest pace of vaccinations in Europe.
The price of unleaded gasoline reached £1.29 a litre, the highest level since August 2019, according to RAC Foundation figures.
The average UK fuel prices now remain stable despite pump closures, although there are incidents of filling stations hiking charges.
Government figures show the average price of a litre of petrol at UK forecourts increased by just a fraction of 1p to £1.35 on Monday.
Typical diesel prices rose from £1.37p to £1.38p over the same period.
The AA said instances of petrol stations increasing prices are likely to be attempts to deter drivers from topping up fuel tanks when they do not need to.
It added that prices at forecourts off main roads “tend to be dearer”, but “not massively”.
The RAC has warned that rising wholesale prices are set to be passed on to motorists in the coming days, with oil edging closer to $80 a barrel.
Gas and electricity prices in Europe have surged in recent months as gas supply issues have collided with rising demand in economies recovering from the pandemic.
Prices have increased around 250% this year due to low stock levels, high demand in Asia, high carbon prices and outages.
UK households are facing higher gas and electricity prices after the UK government said it would not bail out energy companies on the brink of collapse.
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