UK sees six months of rising petrol prices with more to come

Petrol prices

Petrol prices have risen for the past six months and further increases are on the cards as oil nears $70 a barrel, according to the RAC.

The motoring organisation said that unleaded prices rose by almost a penny a litre in April to end the month at an average of just over 127p a litre. That was the highest level since January 2020 and took the cost of filling up an average family car to £69.95. Prices for diesel prices rose for a fifth monthly in a row to just under 130p.

The RAC said that with oil prices having risen by nearly $5 last month, “wholesale petrol and diesel prices are also now on the rise, which is likely to translate into even higher pump prices for drivers in May”.

Brent crude, the global benchmark oil price, yesterday traded up to within a whisker of $70 a barrel, a threshold it last briefly surpassed in March after attacks on Saudi production facilities. That level had not been seen since January last year before the pandemic hit, triggering a collapse in demand that sent prices plunging below $20 a barrel by April 2020.

Prices have rallied in recent months as demand has recovered and vaccination programmes bring hopes of a lasting recovery. Yesterday’s rise followed a drop in US oil stockpiles.

The Opec+ alliance of leading producers, which curtailed output last year to address the supply glut, has also continued to limit supplies.

Simon Williams, RAC fuel spokesman, said: “April marks six months of rising petrol prices and sadly there’s no end in sight as oil is getting perilously close to hitting $70 a barrel.

“If oil breaks this threshold, it will inevitably spell more bad news for drivers at the pumps. With lockdown restrictions easing, it’s very frustrating for drivers that they’re now having to contend with even higher fuel prices just at the point where many will be driving a lot more. But unfortunately, it’s the very fact people are driving more that’s causing petrol prices to go up as demand for oil, and in turn fuel, begins to outpace supply.”