Record gap between petrol and diesel pump prices29 Sep 2022

War in Ukraine impacting fuel prices

The pump price gap between diesel and petrol has hit a record high.

Analysis by the RAC Foundation and the PA news agency of weekly fuel price data from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) shows that as of the start of the week diesel was nearly 17p per litre more expensive than petrol, at 180.3p and 163.8p respectively.

In the chart below a positive pence per litre value means diesel is more expensive than petrol. A negative value indicates where petrol has been more expensive than diesel.

This means filling a typical 55-litre family diesel car is around £9 more expensive than for petrol models.

The price difference is the largest pence per litre differential in BEIS records dating back to June 2003.

Over the past 19 years diesel has, on average, only cost around 5p per litre more than petrol. On rare occasions petrol has been more expensive than diesel but not by more than 2.5p.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said:

“In part this huge gap is the product of a dip in global demand for petrol following the end of the so-called driving season in the United States.

“But more significant is the rising global demand for diesel which is not only used as a road fuel but also, especially in continental Europe, as a method of heating and power generation and as a substitute for gas. Given that supplies from Russia have been cut back because of the war in Ukraine this means there are a lot of people chasing less stock.

“The bad news for UK diesel drivers – and the diesel-truck dependent UK freight industry – is that, with winter only just starting and the war in Ukraine showing no sign of ending, the sizeable gap between diesel and petrol pump prices is likely to continue for several months to come even if the cost of oil drops.”

A barrel of Brent crude oil is currently just below $90 a barrel, down from a year high of $128 in early March shortly after the invasion of Ukraine.

Pump prices reached a record high in early July 2022 when diesel hit a UK average of 199p per litre and petrol stood at 191.5p.

In July 2022, a review by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) into the road fuel market found that “the main drivers of increased road fuel prices are: the rising cost of crude oil; and a growing gap between the crude oil price and the wholesale price of petrol and diesel – the so-called ‘refining spread’.”

The CMA said “the ‘refining spread’ tripled in the last year, growing from 10p to nearly 35p per litre.”



Philip Gomm – Head of External Communications – RAC Foundation

[email protected] | 07711 776448

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