Petrol retailers deny profiteering as prices rise

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Fuel retailers suggested yesterday that rising prices at the pumps are due to “speculation” by traders in the wholesale market.

Petrol prices have been going up after more than three months of falling costs at forecourts and the AA has accused retailers of failing to fully pass on a 2p fall in diesel wholesale costs in November and December that, with VAT, were worth 2.5p at the pump

But the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) said yesterday the hike in petrol costs was owing to an unexplained leap in wholesale prices of 5p a litre since Christmas and warned that wholesale cost changes could see them go up by another 4p in coming days.

It comes ahead of a review by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) into whether reductions in the price of crude oil are being passed on to motorists, which will be released next week.

Brian Madderson, chairman of the PRA, said once again his members would be “accused of profiteering at the pumps when that is simply not true.”

Mr Madderson called on the OFT to launch an investigation into the wholesale market rather than target petrol stations. He accepted that retailers had failed to pass on the 2p fall in diesel wholesale costs before Christmas, but said that was owing to the “horrendous” summer for petrol stations.

Latest figures released by Experian Catalyst show petrol is selling on average for 132.83p a litre and diesel at 140.4p. Yorkshire and Humberside remains the cheapest area in the UK for petrol and diesel at 132.1p and 139.7p.