Fleet News

Covid-19 travel restrictions may keep pump prices low

Row of fuel pumps

The RAC is warning that the coming weeks will be critical when it comes to working out where diesel and petrol prices might be heading during the rest of 2021.

It says that as long travel restrictions remain in place to battle coronavirus, low oil demand should protect pump prices from rising too quickly.

However, oil output is also important and any reductions in supply could push the cost of a barrel of oil beyond the $70 mark.

March saw the fifth straight month of petrol and diesel price increases at UK forecourts, with prices up another 2.7p and 2.4p respectively and both fuels now costing the same as they did in February 2020.

With the average price of a litre of petrol now standing at 126.28p and diesel at 129.07p, drivers are respectively having to pay 12.2p and 11.4p more for every litre than they did at the start of November, a rise of about 10% rise in just five months.

This means it now costs £6.68 more to fill a 55-litre petrol car than it did in November (£69.45 in total), and £6.29 more to fill an equivalent-sized diesel car (£70.99).

While the oil price was $63.67 at the end of March having recovered in recent months after hitting a historic low of just $13.21 last April, the ongoing impact of the pandemic on demand – particularly with global travel well down on normal – is, for now, helping to prevent it from going much higher.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “The coming weeks and months are critical when it comes to working out where prices might be heading during the rest of 2021.

“For as long as global Covid travel restrictions remain, it’s hard to see oil prices rocketing – and that should protect wholesale, and in turn, pump prices from rising too quickly.

“However, what the major oil producing nations decide to do in terms of oil output is also important. Any further reductions in supply could start to push the barrel price up above the $70 mark again – spelling yet more pump price rises here in the UK.”

Drivers looking for the best value at the pumps should continue to head to supermarkets, with a litre of unleaded currently costing 121.9p on average, with diesel at 124.86p.

Asda leads the way with petrol at just 120.99p a litre, and diesel at 123.99p. It is still the case, however, that all the major retailers raised their prices in March in line with the rest of the industry, to the tune of an average of 2.61p for petrol and 2.59p for diesel.

In fact, RAC Fuel Watch data suggests that drivers should even be in line for a pump price cut in the coming weeks if retailers fairly reflect wholesale prices on their forecourts.

Regional pump prices compared

Diesel

01/03/2021

30/03/2021

Change

UK average

126.68

129.03

2.35

East

127.61

129.96

2.35

East Midlands

126.65

128.85

2.20

London

127.54

130.21

2.67

North East

125.61

127.97

2.36

North West

126.23

128.63

2.40

Northern Ireland

121.76

124.40

2.64

Scotland

126.26

128.72

2.46

South East

127.95

130.33

2.38

South West

126.84

129.24

2.40

Wales

125.71

128.19

2.48

West Midlands

126.70

128.99

2.29

Yorkshire And The Humber

126.18

128.47

2.29

Unleaded

01/03/2021

30/03/2021

Change

UK average

123.58

126.26

2.68

East

124.03

126.86

2.83

East Midlands

123.43

125.78

2.35

London

124.81

127.87

3.06

North East

122.44

125.11

2.67

North West

123.37

125.89

2.52

Northern Ireland

118.45

122.18

3.73

Scotland

122.72

125.97

3.25

South East

124.59

127.36

2.77

South West

123.48

126.32

2.84

Wales

122.40

125.14

2.74

West Midlands

123.53

125.99

2.46

Yorkshire And The Humber

123.20

125.40

2.20

Click here for fuel and fuel cards best practice and procurement insight

Leave a comment for your chance to win £20 of John Lewis vouchers.

Every issue of Fleet News the editor picks his favourite comment from the past two weeks – get involved for your chance to appear in print and win!

Comment as guest


Login  /  Register

Comments

No comments have been made yet.

Related content

Compare costs of your company cars

Looking to acquire new vehicles? Check how much they'll cost to run with our Car Running Cost calculator.

What is your BIK car tax liability?

The Fleet News car tax calculator lets you work out tax costs for both employer and employee