Diesel and petrol pump prices rose in January, according to RAC Fuel Watch data.
Diesel went up 1.56p to 125.04p a litre and unleaded increased 1.34p at the pumps to 122.24p a litre.
It means that the price of diesel has gone up 5p a litre, rising from around 120p in October to 125p. Petrol has increased 4p a litre since October 2017 when it was around 118p. Petrol is now at its highest point since late November 2014 and diesel the highest since early December 2014.
The average price charged by the big four supermarket fuel retailers suffered a bigger rise at 2p a litre, taking the average price of a litre of supermarket petrol to 119.76p and diesel to 122.45p.
The RAC says that the retail fuel price rises have been sparked by a 2% increase in the price of oil, albeit somewhat softened by a more recent 5% boost in the value of the pound to $1.42 on 31 January.
RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “The start of 2018 hasn’t been good for motorists as they’ve had to endure their third consecutive monthly increase at the pumps. Both petrol and diesel are now at their highest points for more than three years which is bound to be making a dent in household budgets.”
Filling a 55-litre family car with petrol now costs £67.23 whereas the diesel equivalent is more expensive at £68.77. This is in stark contrast to the cheapest point of 2017 in July when a tank of unleaded was £4.35 cheaper and a diesel fill-up was £5.51 cheaper.
Williams continued: “There is a glimmer of hope that some of the heat in the forecourt price of fuel could cool in February as our current two-week forecast shows reductions of a penny for petrol and two pence for diesel.
“Whether this will filter through at the pumps is questionable as retailers are generally loath to pass on wholesale savings when they consider them to be marginal.”
While the fuel market is very hard to predict at the best of times, there is currently even greater uncertainty as the price of oil went through the $70 a barrel mark in January for the first time in more than three years. Meanwhile, sterling has strengthened against the dollar making wholesale fuel cheaper as it is traded in dollars.
Williams said: “We urge fuel retailers to be fair to motorists and pass on the current savings in the wholesale price of petrol and diesel at the pump.
“Reflecting downward movement in wholesale prices on the forecourt, however small, is important for retailers as motorists generally believe there is little transparency in the price of fuel, unless of course costs are on the up when they understand all too well they will quickly be paying more to fill up.”
Regional fuel price variation
Scotland suffered the largest increase in the price of both unleaded and diesel. Petrol north of the border went up 1.76p a litre in January from 120.12p to 121.88p. The North East, however, had the smallest rise with only a penny being added to the price – 120.40p to 121.49p.
By the close of January the West Midlands recorded the lowest average price of petrol at 121.49p, although Northern Ireland’s was almost identical at 121.50p. The South East was customarily the most expensive at 123.15p.
Scotland’s diesel increase was a whopping 2.34p a litre – 123.48p to 125.25p – considerably above the UK average rise of 1.56p. The West Midlands had the smallest hike at just over a penny a litre. The East of England, however, just took the South East’s title as the most expensive place in the UK to buy diesel with a litre averaging 125.73p there. Northern Ireland remains the cheapest for diesel with a litre costing 124.02p at the end of January after a 1.78p rise.
Regional average unleaded pump prices
|Yorkshire And The Humber||120.26||121.55||1.29|
Regional average diesel pump prices
|Yorkshire And The Humber||123.06||124.45||1.39|