Fuel prices return towards near-record levels


The price of petrol at the pumps is back up towards near-record levels, the AA said today.

The increase comes as European refinery profits have risen to a five-year high, the AA added.

Petrol at UK pumps now costs an average of 139.71p a litre - within 3p of the 142.48p a litre record set in mid April.

Diesel now costs an average 143.98p a litre compared with the mid-April record of 147.93p.

Petrol had fallen to a summer low of 130.81p a litre and diesel to 136.12p - both on July 1.

The AA said that since then, the cost of a typical 50-litre tank refill has risen £4.45 and £6.29 for an 80-litre commercial van tank. A two-car family is seeing its monthly petrol costs rise by £18.90.

AA president Edmund King said: "Once again UK drivers find themselves being dragged over a barrel, as does business and Bank of England inflation targets.

"Last week, Government statistics showed that traffic on minor country roads fell by 5% - such was the impact of record high fuel prices on rural communities."

He went on: "Traditionally, the price of petrol falls off at the end of summer, which makes five-year-high refining margins pushing up pump prices a particularly bitter pill to swallow.

Mr King said there were two Westminster debates on petrol prices this week, following last week's announcement of an Office of Fair Trading investigation into pump prices.

He went on: "Drivers are growing weary of words - they want action. The (former transport secretary) Justine Greening initiative to introduce a wholesale price track this year and make fuel prices more transparent would have been big step forward, but now it's on hold."