April has seen an end to the steep monthly rises in fuel prices in the first quarter of 2022 with fractional declines in the average cost of petrol and diesel, according to the latest RAC Fuel Watch data.
The average price of petrol dropped by 0.5ppl to 162.75ppl over the course of the month while diesel was down even less from 177.44ppl on 1 April to 177.31ppl on 30 April.
Petrol is now 4.5ppl lower than the record high of 167.3ppl set on 22 March while diesel is 2.5ppl below 179.9ppl recorded on 23 March.
While the price of oil dropped below $100 three times in April the barrel price finished slightly higher than it started the month at $108.62 ($107.52 on 1 April). However, the pound lost ground on the dollar, falling from $1.30 to $1.25 over the month which makes wholesale fuel more expensive for retailers to buy as fuel is traded in dollars.
RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “After three months of nightmarish price rises, April finally saw an end to seemingly endless forecourt hikes.
“Although the price of oil has cooled considerably, there’s still plenty of uncertainty in the market which is leading to prices jumping around a lot. This coupled with the exchange rate worsening isn’t good for drivers and news that the EU is planning to phase out Russian oil is likely to cause the barrel price to rise.”
“However, retailers really should have passed on the savings they were benefitting from when wholesale prices were lower earlier in April; sadly for drivers this didn’t happen. Instead, the biggest retailers, which buy most frequently held out, protecting themselves from future rises. They will no doubt feel they were justified in not lowering their forecourt prices as wholesale costs are now rising again, in part due to the pound losing ground on the dollar, making it more expensive for retailers when they buy new stock.
“It’s also very much the case that retailers’ margins were far higher in April than they were in March. RAC Fuel Watch data estimates they took around 4ppl more than they did over the course of the previous month. This will surely be a disappointment to the Chancellor who cut fuel duty by 5ppl in the Spring Statement.”
The average price of a litre of fuel at motorway services rose by nearly a penny a litre with petrol going up 0.67ppl to 182.08ppl and diesel 0.83ppl to 192.34ppl. The lowest priced petrol at the big four supermarkets was 159.38ppl at Asda, closely followed by Morrisons and Sainsbury’s which were both under 160p. Asda also had the cheapest diesel at an average of 173.12ppl across its sites – half a penny per litre less than Morrisons.