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There’s more than 30p difference in the highest and lowest UK fuel prices



Top Gear Advice

Prices at the pumps have surged an average of eight pence since the start of the year

Published: 17 Apr 2024

UK drivers are continuing to pay more at the fuel pumps. And to make matters worse, the difference between the highest and lowest prices across the UK is 35p for petrol and 38p for diesel, according to the latest data from RAC FuelWatch.

The average price of petrol is now sitting at £1.50 where the average price for diesel is £1.56. The variation across the country is staggering though. Supermarket petrol prices can be anything between £1.39 and £1.74. Granted, 35p no longer buys you a chocolate bar, can of pop or even a packet of crisps, but on a per-litre basis, it’s the difference between shelling out £69.50 or £87 for a 50-litre fill-up. Ouch.

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Non-supermarket petrol prices differ by 31p per litre. And the picture isn’t very pretty for diesel prices either, which can vary up to as much as 38p across supermarket forecourts.

Since the start of the year, petrol and diesel prices have been on the rise. It’s all down to the cost of brent crude oil topping out at $80 per barrel and staying there all the way through February. It’s resulted in an average eight pence surge since January. But there are additional factors at play.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) concluded in a July 2023 report that drivers were overcharged by some £900m in 2022. As a result, RAC Fuel Watch has been scrutinising the big four supermarkets – Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco – more closely.

Simon Williams, spokesperson for RAC FuelWatch, said: “Our data shows that in February, drivers endured the highest monthly average fuel price increases since September 2023. Diesel’s 4.7p rise was the 14th largest and the 4p that went on to petrol was the 17th biggest increase since the start of the century.

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“What’s especially galling is the continuing difference in price between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. On average fuel is 5p cheaper there, with big retailers appearing happy to operate on thinner margins per litre.

“Looking at average margins across the whole of the UK, retailers are currently taking around 10p a litre on average across both petrol and diesel. The supermarkets in particular have now noticeably upped their margins to 8p a litre compared to 6p in 2019. Luckily for drivers, this is lower than the last two years when it was around 9.5p.

“When analysing the supermarkets’ prices via the Competition and Markets Authority open data scheme, it is also very clear there are some big differences between the cheapest and most expensive prices charged for both petrol and diesel.

“We hope that the eventual introduction of the monitoring body recommended by the Competition and Markets Authority will help to bring an end to this postcode lottery that treats drivers so unfairly.”

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Northern Ireland’s fuel market isn’t dominated by the big supermarket retailers, meaning it offers an arguably better indication of where fuel prices should be sitting at any given time.

How much is petrol in the UK today?

It depends. We’ll keep you posted on the latest fuel prices, but the RAC Fuel Watch alert is also a good resource. The prices of petrol fluctuate based on the price of oil. It’s a long (and frankly, boring) story, so we’ll keep it short.

Crude Oil +

Delivery (not Amazon Prime, sadly, but those trucks don’t drive themselves…yet) +

Retailer margin +

Fuel Duty  =

The final fuel price at the pump. It’s worth noting that retailer margin is where you’ll see the most movement and why one station up the road can differ so greatly from another. 

Are fuel prices coming down in the UK?

Sadly not.

What is the cheapest fuel near me?

After consulting our TG crystal ball, aka The Internet, your best bet for locating the cheapest fuel anywhere in the UK is via the extremely convenient app. It’s free to download, you’ll need to register, but you can enter any postcode or town and it’ll show the local stations and the price at each. You can use filters to locate only specific brands if you have a loyalty card. They’ve also integrated a comment service, so you can award stars and feedback on each of your fill-ups, if you like. 

Why are UK fuel prices so high?

It’s a great question, but it depends on the month you ask it. The ongoing global conflicts continue to have an impact, but lower oil production in the Middle East (i.e. a cap on how much they take out of the ground) and more demand coming from China means prices are fluctuating. Other factors, like currency exchange rates, play a role too. 

How much was a litre of petrol in the UK in 2023?

The short answer is ‘lower’. The graphs below show how the fuel prices have been tracking over the last few years. 

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