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Fuel prices surge in LARGEST monthly increase since last year

The RAC Fuel Watch has reported significant rises in the cost of petrol and diesel in February, marking the most substantial monthly increases in the last five months.

The average price of petrol climbed by 4p per litre, closing the month at 144.76p, while diesel experienced a near 5p leap, ending at 153.22p.

This escalation has pushed the cost of a full tank of unleaded petrol to £79.62, up from £77.41, and diesel to £84.27 from £81.67 for an average 55-litre family car. The price jumps are attributed to the cost of oil surpassing the $80 a barrel benchmark early in the month and the pound's diminished value against the dollar, which affected the purchase price of fuel on the wholesale market.

Despite the national trend, drivers in Northern Ireland continue to enjoy lower prices at the pump, with petrol and diesel cheaper by 5.6p and 4.6p respectively compared to the rest of the UK.

Analysis from the RAC, using data from the Government's voluntary open data scheme, revealed that petrol is marginally less expensive at major supermarkets, by about 1.8p per litre, and diesel by 1.1p, showcasing an 18p difference in petrol prices and a 21p difference in diesel prices between the lowest and highest-priced supermarket forecourts.

The findings reveal the variability in fuel prices across the UK, with significant disparities even within supermarket chains, highlighting the impact of global oil prices and currency valuation on domestic fuel costs.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “Our data shows that in February, drivers endured the highest monthly average fuel price increases since September 2023. Diesel’s 4.7p rise was the 14th largest and the 4p that went on to petrol was the 17th biggest increase since the start of the century.

“What’s especially galling is the continuing difference in price between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. On average fuel is 5p cheaper there, with big retailers appearing happy to operate on thinner margins per litre.

“Looking at average margins across the whole of the UK, retailers are currently taking around 10p a litre on average across both petrol and diesel. The supermarkets in particular have now noticeably upped their margins to 8p a litre compared to 6p in 2019. Luckily for drivers, this is lower than the last two years when it was around 9.5p.

“When analysing the supermarkets’ prices via the Competition and Markets Authority open data scheme, it is also very clear there are some big differences between the cheapest and most expensive prices charged for both petrol and diesel. Frighteningly, at the end of February there was an 18p difference between the country’s cheapest supermarket unleaded and the dearest, and for diesel it was 21p. To put this into a context, it means the cost of filling a family-sized car can be up to £10 more expensive in one part of the country than another. It’s important to remember this is the very same product being charged at vastly different prices based just on location.

“We hope that the eventual introduction of the monitoring body recommended by the Competition and Markets Authority will help to bring an end to this postcode lottery that treats drivers so unfairly.”


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