Drivers queue for fuel in England as motorists hit by rise in oil and diesel prices
The average prices of petrol and diesel hit 161.1p and 170.1p per litre on Thursday, according to data firm Experian Catalist – up respectively by 8p and 13p in a week.
However, costs varied dramatically, with petrol hitting more than £2 per litre at some London forecourts – prompting the RAC to urge chancellor Rishi Sunak to slash VAT on petrol and diesel to 15 per cent.
There was, however, a “hint of better news” as crude oil prices stabilised below $120 a barrel after the UAE signalled it would push other oil exporting nations to boost production in an attempt to fill some of the gap left by Russia.
This “could lead, in a week or so, to a slight slowing in the daily pump price increases, and records being broken less frequently”, the RAC said, although experts warned that oil prices would remain volatile and could spike further.
How much oil does the UK import from Russia?
As Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine becomes increasingly vicious, the punitive economic sanctions imposed on Russia by Western governments are continuing to bite, causing the ruble to plummet in value against the US dollar and Moscow’s central bank to raise its primary inflation rate and introduce capital controls.
Foreign businesses and brands are meanwhile reconsidering their commercial relationships with the country, with McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Hermes, Chanel, Netflix, Spotify and Prada all severing ties in opposition to the faltering attempted conquest.
Ukraine has meanwhile published a list of other international companies still operating in Russia in the hope of shaming them into following suit.
Joe Sommerlad has more:
Government intends to phase out dependence by year’s end in opposition to war in Ukraine
Unwanted Russian oil and gas poses ‘environmental conundrum’ over methane emission risk
Unwanted Russian oil and gas pose an “environmental conundrum” as it could lead to extra methane leaks into the environment, energy experts have said.
While the potent greenhouse gas is emitted throughout the stages of fossil fuel production, they said there was an additional risk in oil and gas tankers stranded at sea due to sanctions over the Ukraine war.
If Russia is forced to curtail its fossil fuel production, energy experts said this could also be a problem, which closed wells a “major source” of methane leaks.
Zoe Tidman reports:
Exclusive: ‘This crisis keeps emphasising the problems with fossil fuels,’ Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit expert says
Drop in wholesale fuel costs gives hope to drivers of pump price relief
A slump in wholesale fuel costs means drivers could be given relief from record pump prices.
The AA said latest trade figures show petrol wholesale costs have fallen to 67.7p per litre, down from 75.8p per litre at the start of the week.
Wholesale diesel costs have fallen from 89.8p per litre to 77.3p per litre over the same period.
Neil Lancefield reports:
The AA said latest trade figures show fuel wholesale costs have slumped since the start of the week.
Record fuel prices ‘another kick in the teeth’ for businesses after Covid
Rising fuel prices mean that one corporate travel business could end running its services at a loss, its managing director has warned.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4, Jenna Rush of North East Coach Travel, based in Newcastle upon Tyne, said that most of the firm’s bookings were agreed last year and did not take into account such a sharp rise in costs as those sparked by Vladimir Putin’s war.
“It's just awful, it's a very, very stressful time,” Ms Rush said. “We tendered as far back as last year for this type of work, no one envisaged that the fuel prices would increase as much as they have.
“At the moment we're scared that we are going to be running at a loss when it keeps increasing.”
She added: “The profit margins are too small that we just can't absorb them costs ourselves, not coming off the back of Covid anyway. It's been a very hard two years. We've been beginning to see the green shoots of recovery coming through but now this is just another kick in the teeth.”
Fuel prices hit ninth consecutive all-time high in UK
Petrol and diesel prices in the UK have risen to record highs for nine consecutive days, according to the RAC.
The average price of a litre of petrol at UK forecourts on Thursday was a record 161.1p, while diesel hit a new high of 170.1p, figures from data firm Experian Catalist show.
It has been 19 days since prices fell. On 19 February, the cost of petrol by 0.3p per litre. Prior to that, the last time that prices dropped was 12 February.
There was no significant change to fuel prices on 1 March and 21 February, the RAC told The Independent.
Higher fuel prices among factors ailing aviation’s post-pandemic recovery, Heathrow warns
Heathrow Airport has warned that higher fuel prices and Russia’s war in Ukraine have created “huge uncertainty” over the aviation sector’s recovery from the pandemic.
The UK’s largest airport said it had not seen as many passengers return last month as it expected – with the 2.8 million people travelling through the hub sitting at just over half of pre-pandemic levels and 15 per cent below its forecast.
“Aviation's recovery remains overshadowed by war and Covid uncertainty,” chief executive John Holland-Kaye said.
The airport said outbound leisure travel was “recovering strongly” but demand from inbound leisure and business travel remained suppressed by Covid testing and quarantine requirements.
“While we hope that these will be removed, we also face headwinds from higher fuel prices, longer flight times to destinations impacted by airspace closures, concerns from U.S. travellers over war in Europe and the likelihood of new ‘Variants of Concern’, which together create huge uncertainty over the passenger forecasts this year,” it said.
The dreaded R-word – recession – is being whispered in Whitehall
Our political columnist Andrew Grice has this report on the wider economic situation facing the UK – and its chancellor:
“We are about to find out who the real Rishi Sunak is,” a former minister told me. The chancellor had planned to make a bland spring statement on 23 March to symbolise a return to normal politics after the coronavirus pandemic – which, in his eyes, includes public spending restraint. But the backdrop to his Commons statement has changed dramatically after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The new normal is anything but.
Although Boris Johnson loves to trumpet that the UK has “fastest growth in the G7,” the dreaded R-word, recession, is being whispered in Whitehall. With inflation soaring and families facing the worst income squeeze since another oil price shock in the 1970s, the calmer waters Sunak hoped for could be replaced by a tsunami. A typical household will see their income fall by £1,000 this year as price rises in food, petrol and energy bite.
Despite that, the chancellor is resisting calls from some cabinet ministers, including Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, for him to expand the £9bn package announced last month to cushion the rise in domestic energy bills. It would have to be raised by £12.5bn to achieve the same level of support because the energy price cap could now rise to £3,000 a year in October.
You can read the full Independent Premium report here:
With inflation soaring and families facing the worst income squeeze since another oil price shock in the 1970s, the calmer waters Sunak hoped for could be replaced by a tsunami, writes Andrew Grice
Houthis claim attack on Riyadh oil refinery
Yemen’s Houthi group claimed a drone attack on a refinery in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Thursday morning, which Saudi state media said did not affect oil supplies.
The Iran-aligned Houthi movement targeted a Saudi Aramco refinery in Riyadh using three Samad-3 drones, its military spokesman Yahya Sarea said on Friday. Six Samad-1 drones were also fired at Aramco facilities in the Saudi cities of Jizan and Abha.
The attack caused a small fire in Riyadh that was controlled and did not result in any injuries or casualties, Saudi state news agency SPA reported early on Friday, citing an energy ministry official.
“The refinery's operations and supplies of petroleum and its derivatives were not affected,” the statement said.
Russia’s invasion ‘creating significant economic uncertainty’, Sunak says
Here’s the latest from the Chancellor on the cost-of-living crisis.
“We have provided unprecedented support throughout the pandemic which has put our economy in a strong position to deal with current cost-of-living challenges,” Rishi Sunak said.
“We are continuing to help people where we can, including through over £20 billion of support this financial year and next.
“We know that Russia's invasion of Ukraine is creating significant economic uncertainty and we will continue to monitor its impact on the UK, but it is vital that we stand with the people of Ukraine to uphold our shared values of freedom and democracy, and ensure Putin fails.”
Cut to fuel excise duty in Ireland ‘immediately eroded'
The cuts to excise duty on petrol and diesel introduced in Ireland last night has been “immediately eroded”, a politician has warned, as fuel prices continued to rise.
Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty said that many garages were charging over €2 per litre and accused some fuel stations of “engaging in price gouging at a time of crisis”.
Amid concerns about the cost of living, the Irish government has introduced a cut of 20 cent per litre on petrol and 15 cent per litre of diesel, which took effect from midnight on Thursday and will last until 31 August – to an estimated cost of €320m.
“The price in most filling stations this morning is more than what they were on Tuesday morning,” Mr Doherty said in the Dail. “The reduction has been immediately eroded and that is the likely trajectory.
“Prices are going to continue to go up and up. It’s something that ordinary workers, ordinary families simply can't afford because it comes on top of already skyrocketing cost of living. People are panicking out there. People are struggling ... half measures simply doesn't cut it. You could have done more.”
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