After two months of rises at the pumps, the price of petrol and diesel stabilised in February, according to RAC Fuel Watch data.
Unleaded finished the month at 120.23p a litre, a very slight increase on the figure of 120.05p seen on 1 February, and diesel at 122.25p, having started at 122.31p, meaning the country is still paying the most it has for fuel since December 2014.
The stability has been brought about by the fact the two key price-determining factors – the price of oil and the sterling/dollar exchange rate – have both steadied, keeping wholesale prices in check. A barrel of oil averaged $55 throughout the month and the pound was worth on average $1.25.
It now costs £66.13 to fill up an average 55-litre family car with petrol compared to £55.91 a year ago when the average price nationally was 101.65p. A tank of diesel is now £67.27 compared to £55.72 12 months ago when a litre averaged 101.31p.
RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “While the price of oil has shot up by $10 since the end of November when many oil producing countries agreed to curb production it appears to have settled around the $55 mark which will be a relief to motorists who no doubt felt forecourt prices were constantly heading in the wrong direction. Filling up an average car is sadly now £11 more expensive than a year ago.
The oil production cut, which is the first in eight years, is even more significant because it was brought about by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) making an agreement with 11 other oil producing countries to limit production by a total of 1.8m barrels a day globally with a view to getting the barrel price to increase.
Simon Williams added: “The agreement between OPEC and non-member countries seems to be holding firm for the time being which is not good news for motorists. For prices at the pumps to come down again we would need the oil price to reduce and the pound to make up some of its lost ground on the dollar.
“So a month where fuel prices have stayed broadly the same is welcome news. Given the global oil production situation and the weaker pound all we can really hope for at the moment is some continued price stability on the forecourt.”
Regional fuel price variation
The North East took Northern Ireland’s title of having the cheapest fuel in the UK with petrol at an average of 119.34p and diesel at 121.19p at the end of February. The South East remains the most expensive place to buy fuel with a litre of petrol costing 120.94p and diesel 123p.
The North West saw the biggest rise in the price of unleaded, albeit only 0.31p and the South East recorded the largest diesel price reduction even though it was just -0.18p.
Regional average unleaded pump prices
|Yorkshire And The Humber||119.48||119.73||0.25|
Regional average diesel pump prices
|Yorkshire And The Humber||121.77||121.73||-0.04|