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Petrol falls 2p a litre in September as oil price stays below $50 a barrel

Press release   •   Oct 03, 2015 00:01 BST

  • Further 2p cut in petrol price expected in October
  • Average price of unleaded goes back to being cheaper than diesel
  • Since 1 July a tank of petrol is £4 cheaper, and diesel £5.65 cheaper
  • August saw second highest ever diesel sales

The average price of petrol continued to fall throughout September with another 2p a litre being shaved off at the pumps, according to the latest RAC Fuel Watch data.

This means filling up a 55-litre family car is now £1 cheaper than it was at the start of September. Diesel stayed almost the same around the 110p-a-litre mark (109.86p on 1 September to 110.36p on 30 September), but the petrol/diesel price flip was finally reversed after nearly two months of diesel being cheaper than unleaded.

The RAC Fuel Watch report for September reveals that the average price of diesel returned to being more expensive than unleaded on Friday 25 September (petrol 110.01p v diesel 110.27p), having fallen below petrol on Wednesday 29 July for the first time since summer 2001.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “Petrol has now returned to its traditional position of being cheaper than diesel. This is primarily due to lower demand for unleaded as a result of the US summer holiday driving season finishing at the end of August. A secondary factor is that the diesel wholesale price has stayed stronger than petrol because, in the run-up to winter, there is now less diesel in the marketplace – more oil from that ‘part of the barrel’ is being used to produce more profitable domestic heating oil.

“The cost of wholesale unleaded fell 2% in September, hopefully paving the way for further reductions at the pump – we predict at least another 2p-a-litre saving to be passed on by retailers within the next fortnight.

“The continued lower prices of both petrol and diesel are a result of ongoing low oil prices. The cost of a barrel of crude has now been below $50 since 31 August and is 3% cheaper than it was at the start of September, having come down from $48.98 a barrel to $47.31. The effect of this on pump prices would have been greater had the pound not lost a little ground on the dollar in September.”

Since the start of July, the average forecourt price of unleaded has dropped 7p a litre from 117p to the current 109.63p, making a tank £4 cheaper. Diesel, however, has plummeted 10p a litre from 120.63p to 110.36p, giving drivers a saving of £5.65 every time they fill up from empty.

HMRC oil duty statistics for August show combined sales of petrol and diesel were 1.8% up on July at 3.975bn litres. Petrol sales (1.476bn) were the same as July but down 5.6% on July 2014, whereas diesel (2.499bn) was up 2.7% on the month before and 2.8% ahead of the previous July, making for the second highest number of litres ever sold, only behind November 2014 when 2,501bn litres were sold.

The following table shows 3 month, 6 month and 12 month price and percentage change, compared to 30/9/2015:

£ v $
exchange rate
($ per
per litre)
Unleaded pump
(pence per litre)
Diesel wholesale
(pence per litre)
Diesel pump
(pence per litre)
Data as of 30 September 2015 1.5148 47.31 102.32 109.63 105.32 110.36
Compared to 3 months ago... 1.57 61.07 113.34 117.15 111.09 120.75
Change -0.06 -13.76 -11.02 -7.52 -5.77 -10.39
% change -4% -23% -10% -6% -5% -9%
Compared to 6 months ago... 1.48 54.03 109.51 112.92 109.93 118.69
Change 0.03 -6.72 -7.20 -3.29 -4.60 -8.33
% change 2% -12% -7% -3% -4% -7%
Compared to 9 months ago... 1.56 55.03 101.00 112.62 107.93 119.57
Change -0.04 -7.72 1.32 -2.99 -2.60 -9.21
% change -3% -14% 1% -3% -2% -8%
Compared to 12 months ago... 1.62 94.84 121.82 128.70 124.95 132.95
Change -0.11 -47.53 -19.50 -19.07 -19.63 -22.59
% change -7% -50% -16% -15% -16% -17%

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