Petrol price soars to new record high of 161.1p a litre and diesel to 170.1p – even though wholesale prices have slumped by 7p and 12p this week

Fuel prices have hit a new high at UK forecourts, despite wholesale costs slumping.

Figures from data firm Experian Catalist show the average cost of a litre of petrol at UK forecourts on Thursday was 161.1p, up from 159.6p on Wednesday.

The average cost of a litre of diesel reached a new high of 170.1p on Thursday, up from 167.4p on Wednesday.

Oil prices soared following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, leading to higher wholesale costs for fuel retailers with motorists seeing eye-watering surges at the pumps. 

However, the AA has revealed that wholesale prices now seem to be on the way down.  

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.

These reductions ‘offer drivers the hope that pump prices are reaching their peak and may fall back’, the AA added.

The price per barrel of Brent crude, the most commonly used way of measuring the UK’s oil price, reached $139 on Monday, which was its highest level in 14 years.

But the price plummeted to $109 US on Wednesday, and remains near that level. However, the drop in wholesale costs has not yet registered with pump prices.

The transport industry has called on the Government to cut VAT on petrol and diesel as rising prices create ‘a really quite tough’ situation for drivers. 

Support is growing for a petition calling for fuel duty and VAT on fuel to be reduced by 40% for two years.

Nearly 50,000 people have signed the petition posted on the UK Government and Parliament website. The Irish government reduced excise duty on fuel on Thursday.

A cut of 20 cent per litre on petrol and 15 cent per litre on diesel will be in place until the end of August. 

Reductions in wholesale fuel costs ‘offer the hope that pump prices may now level off and hopefully fall’, AA fuel price spokesman Luke Bosdet said. 

He said: ‘A slump in the oil price over the past two days has dragged the wholesale cost of petrol and diesel down with it – too late to influence pump prices this weekend but sufficient to offer the hope that pump prices may now level off and hopefully fall somewhat.

‘Ironically, motorists rushing to fill up and beat pump price surges the weekend before last may have accelerated pump price rises, as stock turned over faster than normal and higher costs worked their way through to the pump sooner than normal. 

‘Fuel demand statistics release by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (below) show that that rush to the pumps fell away this week.

‘The squeeze on the finances of families with cars continues but the apocalyptic pump price predictions seem much less likely to happen. And, with milder spring weather and longer daylight reducing the fuel consumption of vehicles, it is quite possible that cars getting an extra three miles to the gallon will save the equivalent of 9p a litre at the pump.’

Simon Williams, fuel spokesman for the RAC, told BBC Radio 4 on Friday: ‘We know from our long-term research that eight in 10 drivers would struggle to be without their car, so having access to a car in a pandemic has also become more important, and so it’s really quite tough now.’

‘The cost of filling up is over £88 for petrol and £92 for diesel,’ he said, adding that the pandemic had already caused prices to rise.

He said the RAC is calling on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to take action, adding: ‘One thing he could do is reduce VAT on petrol and diesel.

‘At the moment, just the VAT, which is of course called a tax on a tax, is bringing 26 pence per litre so, bringing that back to 15% would instantly cut it by about six pence per litre.’ 

Mr Williams said drivers will be ‘wondering whether these record rises are ever going to stop’.

He went on: ‘While prices may well continue to go up in the coming days, oil and wholesale fuel prices dropped for the second day in a row yesterday which should hopefully slow, or even halt, the cycle of escalating pump prices in the next week or so as retailers buy new stock at lower prices.

‘There is, however, a concern they will be reluctant to lower their prices for fear of catching a cold if wholesale costs were to jump back up again.

‘The oil price drop, which was the biggest since the early stages of the pandemic, was caused by traders becoming less concerned about supply disruption.

‘The barrel price fell almost nine US dollars on Thursday from 129.41 dollars to 120.99 dollars having already come down from nearly 138 dollars on Tuesday.’ 

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