Watchdog to Investigate high petrol prices

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fuel prices

Let's hope fuel prices never hit these highs!

In a long awaited move the spiralling price of petrol is to be investigated by watchdog to ensure that you, as a customer, aren’t being ripped off.

Opinions on the UK’s £32 billion petrol and diesel marketplace are being asked of both motoring groups and consumers in order to get a broad range of views on the sector.

Between mid-2007 and the same time this year, petrol prices has risen by over 38%. The cost of diesel has sky-rocketed by about 43%.

Currently, the average cost of a litre of petrol is 138.99p with prices as high as 151.9p. Diesel prices average 143.52p with some fuel stations charging as much as 154.9p (figures courtesy of petrolprices.com).

Just under 73% of the price of fuel in the UK is made up of tax.

In June 2012, Public outrage at the cost of fuel is believed to persuaded Chancellor George to delay a planned 3p increase in fuel duty. The rise is now set to come into force in January 2013.

The study, carried out by the Office of Fair Trading will look at:

1. If prices reductions in the cost of buying crude oil are being passed on to the fuel pump prices and customers.

2. Are the oil companies and supermarkets fuel chains acting in an anti-competitive way against independent suppliers

3. Investigate competition levels in rural areas of the United Kingdom look into alleged price fixing between competing fuel companies

Claire Hart, director in the OFT’s services, infrastructure and public markets group, said: “We are keenly aware of continuing widespread concern about the pump price of petrol and diesel and we have heard a number of different claims about how the market is operating.”

In a separate statement, a Department for Transport spokesman welcomed the OFT’s decision, saying, “Many motorists are concerned about fuel prices and that when crude oil prices fall, this isn’t seen at the pump as quickly as consumers would like.

The OFT originally started to look at the state of the UK’s fuel sector back in February 2012 following a submission from the Retail Motor Industry (RMI). In that submission, concerns were raised about what could be seen as anit-competitive practises being used by the major fuel retailers.

The RMI is a trade body which represents car dealers, independent garages and petrol retailers.

“There is a widespread feeling that when oil goes up, pump prices rocket immediately – but when the oil price falls, pump prices don’t reflect that fall. This causes a sense of complete exasperation and anger.”

Information will be collected by the OFT over the next six weeks. Findings that come out of the study will be published in January 2013.

Good news all round although I’m surprised the government didn’t do something about fuel prices a long time ago.

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