Fuel prices drop - but not enough

PETROL and diesel prices may be on the slide but they're still too expensive, according to the Petrol Retailers Association.

Tom Potter

PETROL and diesel prices may be on the slide but they're still too expensive, according to the Petrol Retailers Association.

Today crude oil was trading at a 14 month low of $60 a barrel, compared with more than $147 in July.

But the last time oil was trading at $60 a barrel, petrol prices were almost 10p a litre cheaper than they are now.

Most supermarkets and filling stations in Ipswich are selling unleaded for less than a pound but Prime Minister Gordon Brown this week urged retailers and energy giants to reflect falling oil prices and make further cuts to fuel prices and gas and electricity bills.

At an energy meeting in Swindon, the PM said: “We are determined that just as people act quickly to pass on the rise when the oil price rises, they pass on the fall when the oil price falls.”

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Meanwhile red diesel prices continue to fall faster than regular diesel as the price of crude oil drops.

Red diesel must be used exclusively for agriculture, construction and forestry purposes and can not be used to fill up automobiles driven on the road.

Diesel for cars contains more sulphur and is subject to taxes not levied on red diesel so, in order to tell the two fuels apart, a red dye is added.

Although only slightly different chemically from regular diesel, subsidised agricultural red diesel fuel is minimally taxed and therefore significantly cheaper.

Prices are now around 50p a litre - almost 30p less than the July peak - while regular diesel has fallen from a mid-July average of around 133p to around 111p - a comparable shortfall of 8p.

With inflation at 16-year high and some UK petrol stations have dropped the cost of unleaded below the one pound mark and reduced the cost of a 50-litre tank refill by £6.65 but, according to the Petrol Retailers Association, customers are yet to reap the benefits.

A spokesman said: “It depends on a number of other factors.

“The price of oil reflects the price at the pump but as we know it was considerably higher six weeks ago so we may not see a fair reflection for another month.

“At the same time, if the costs set by suppliers don't drop, retailers will be forced to keep prices high.”

- Are fuel companies fair to customers? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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