OFT starts investigation into petrol prices

Updated on 05 September 2012 | 16 Comments

The Office of Fair Trading is to look into how the industry has been setting prices on petrol and diesel.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has embarked on an investigation into the road fuels sector, specifically looking at the setting of petrol and diesel prices.

The fuel industry, motoring groups and consumer bodies are being called on to submit information so that the OFT can see if there are any competition problems affecting the sector, following public concern about the continued rise in the price paid at the pump.

Countries like Germany and Spain have already launched similar investigations which found flaws in their markets' structure.

The OFT plans to investigate four key areas:

  • Whether the reductions in the wholesale price of crude oil are being mirrored by falling prices at the pump.
  • Whether the practices of supermarkets and big oil companies may be making it more difficult for independent retailers to compete.
  • Whether there is a lack of competition between fuel retailers in remote communities.
  • Whether concerns over pricing and the structure of the market identified by other countries are relevant in the UK.

The OFT will determine whether the claims have any truth and then decide if any further action is warranted.


This is an opportunity for people to voice their concerns on what has been happening to the cost of fuel.

Petrol prices have risen 38% between June 2007 and June 2012. For diesel the jump is 43% over the same period. Back in 2007 unleaded petrol cost just 97 pence per litre and diesel just 96p. Today the prices are well over a pound per litre.

In 2012 the cost of fuel has been unsteady. Unleaded started at 133.5ppl in January, shot up to 138.5ppl in March, then went up to a record high of 142.5ppl in April, before falling back down to 135.5ppl in August.

Diesel prices have seen a similar bizarre pattern. The cost of diesel started the year as 141.9ppl, rose to 145.5ppl in March, reached a massive 147.9ppl in April after which the cost slowly came back down to 140.4ppl in August.

Make savings

The OFT will be collecting information over the next six weeks and will publish the findings in January 2013.

In the meantime there are plenty of ways you can save money on your fuel, including the new fuel saver scheme launched by Morrisons. For other tips, check out how to find the cheapest diesel and petrol prices and  cut your petrol costs by a third.

More stories on motoring:

The best petrol loyalty cards for drivers

25 ways to cut your car insurance

Car insurance: why we're complaining more

A single driving fine will cost you a fortune in rising premiums



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