Motorists facing years of high fuel bills as Office of Fair Trading rejects referring petrol market to Competition Commission

Watchdog launched a study last September to investigate accusations of predatory pricing by supermarkets

Motorists are facing years of petrol price misery after the Office of Fair Trading decided not to refer the road fuel market to the Competition Commission.

The watchdog launched a study last September to investigate accusations of predatory pricing by supermarkets. It also examined claims that falls in the price of crude oil are not reflected quickly in pump prices, while price hikes are instantly acted on.

Petrol prices have soared in recent years, almost doubling between 2003 and 2012. The OFT’s study showed that petrol prices climbed from 76p a litre to £1.36 over the nine years and from 78p to £1.42 a litre for diesel.

But the OFT disappointed consumer groups and business organisations by blaming the seemingly relentless series of price hikes on tax and duty hikes.

And as it found no evidence of anti-competitive behaviour, it will not recommend that the issue gets full regulatory scrutiny.

Clive Maxwell, the OFT’s chief executive, said: “We recognise that there has been widespread mistrust in how this market is operating. However, our analysis suggests that competition is working well, and rises in pump prices over the past decade or so have largely been down to increases in tax and the cost of crude oil.”

Brian Madderson, chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association, accused the OFT of letting drivers down. “How can the OFT tell motorists and businesses that the market is working in the consumer’s interests?” he said.

He warned that as a result there will be more independent gas stations closing down, higher fuel prices and a higher risk of transport disruption in a crisis.

The OFT also dismissed claims of ‘rocket and feather’ price fixing, when pump prices rise quickly when the wholesale price goes up but fall more slowly when it drops.

It analysed 12 years’ worth of price data and “found very limited evidence to support such claims”.

The Forum of Private Business was scathing about the report. “We will have to take the findings of the OFT investigation on board that there was little evidence of collusion of price fixing,” said Alex Jackman, head of policy. “It is a difficult finding to swallow, however, given the lag times that seem to exist between wholesale prices dropping and pump prices following which are there for all to see.”

Edmund King, president of motorist organisation the AA, said: “The OFT sees the fuel pricing market as competitive but this clashes with drivers’ frustration on the forecourts. If fuel pricing is fair and competitive, there is no reason not to publish petrol and diesel wholesale prices to prove the point and reassure motorists.”

The OFT did concede that fuel can be significantly more expensive at motorway service stations and has asked the Department for Transport to consider new road signs that would warn motorway drivers of the higher prices they will be charged.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?
Season's finale brings the end of an era for top coaches and players across the continent

The end of an era across the continent

It's time to say farewell to Klopp, Clement, Casillas and Xavi this weekend as they move on to pastures new, reports Pete Jenson
Bin Laden documents released: Papers reveal his obsession with attacking the US and how his failure to keep up with modern jihad led to Isis

'Focus on killing American people'

Released Bin Laden documents reveal obsession with attacking United States
Life hacks: The innovations of volunteers and medical workers are helping Medécins Sans Frontières save people around the world

Medécins Sans Frontières's life hacks

The innovations of volunteers and medical workers around the world are helping the charity save people
Ireland's same-sex marriage vote: As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?

Same-sex marriage

As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?
The underworld is going freelance: Why The Godfather's Mafia model is no longer viable

The Mafia is going freelance

Why the underworld model depicted in The Godfather is no longer viable