Follow The RAC Media Centre

Price of fuel falls in May as retailers pass on wholesale savings

Press release   •   Jun 05, 2017 00:01 BST

The average price of petrol fell by nearly 2p a litre in May while diesel tumbled by 2.5p after retailers finally passed on savings in the wholesale price of fuel, data from the latest RAC Fuel Watch* report shows.

Unleaded finished the month at 116.72p a litre, down 1.83p from 118.55p at the beginning of May. Diesel, however, dropped further from 120.25p to 117.75p.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “Having seen petrol and diesel prices rise in April, May brought some lower prices at the pump just as motorists sought to make the most of the warmer weather by taking to the road.”

May’s price reduction was led by the supermarkets with a series of cuts which came about after the RAC pointed out that the wholesale cost of fuel had fallen and that forecourt reductions should be passed on to motorists. This can quite clearly be seen in the average price of supermarket petrol which fell 2.18p a litre to 113.48p in May and similarly with diesel which went down by 3.26p to 114.19p.

The reductions mean a tank of unleaded for a typical 55-litre family car is now £1 cheaper at £64.20 than in April and the equivalent diesel fill-up is £1.40 less at £64.76.

Oil stayed broadly the same in May, averaging $49.89 a barrel, but recording a low of $46.93 early on and a high of $53.54 on 24 May. Sterling was also stable at $1.29, although at one point it topped $1.30 – a figure not seen since September last year.

Simon Williams added: “It’s good news to see prices reduce in May, but it’s very difficult to know which way they will head next although current indications are for prices to come down, especially for diesel which is still overpriced on many forecourts.

“OPEC (the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) is trying to counter the oversupplied oil market with a view to making the barrel price rise. It agreed in May, together with a number of non-OPEC producers including Russia, to continue to cut daily production by 1.8m barrels as has been happening since the beginning of the year. However, this level of output restriction does not appear to have had the desired effect to date, partly due to the slightly higher oil price enabling the United States to increase its fracking activity and fill the gap.

“The fact OPEC didn’t limit supply further could bode well for motorists. The other key factor that affects the price we pay for fuel at the pump is the strength of the pound as fuel, like oil, is traded in dollars. It remains to be seen what will happen to sterling after this week’s General Election and in the ensuing Brexit negotiations with the EU, but a further reduction could lead to higher prices on the forecourt.”

Regional fuel price variation

Northern Ireland experienced the biggest fall in the price of petrol, down 2.5p from 117.98p a litre to 115.47p, making it the cheapest in the UK. The South East had the most expensive petrol in the land at 117.25p despite a 1.95p reduction on its forecourts.

The East of England enjoyed the greatest reduction in the diesel price with the average cost dropping 2.68p to 118.14p a litre despite recording the second most expensive price in the UK. Northern Ireland saw the cheapest diesel at 116.46p and the South East the most expensive at 118.43p.

Regional average unleaded pump prices

Unleaded 01/05/2017 31/05/2017 Change
UK Average 118.55 116.72 -1.83
Northern Ireland 117.98 115.47 -2.51
London 118.89 116.80 -2.09
Wales 117.75 115.66 -2.09
East Midlands 118.54 116.56 -1.98
South East 119.20 117.25 -1.95
West Midlands 118.78 116.89 -1.89
South West 118.61 116.82 -1.79
East 118.81 117.05 -1.76
North East 117.59 115.95 -1.64
North West 118.37 116.73 -1.64
Scotland 117.97 116.39 -1.58
Yorkshire and The Humber 118.04 116.64 -1.4

Regional average diesel pump prices

Diesel 01/05/2017 31/05/2017 Change
UK Average 120.25 117.75 -2.50
East 120.82 118.14 -2.68
Northern Ireland 119.11 116.46 -2.65
East Midlands 120.13 117.50 -2.63
London 120.60 117.98 -2.62
South East 121.01 118.43 -2.58
West Midlands 120.36 117.79 -2.57
North West 120.15 117.66 -2.49
North East 119.25 116.79 -2.46
Yorkshire and The Humber 119.78 117.35 -2.43
Wales 119.59 117.20 -2.39
Scotland 120.10 117.80 -2.30
South West 120.22 117.93 -2.29

Notes to Editors

* Average fuel prices quoted in theRAC Fuel Watch April report are based on Experian Catalist data from 1 May to 31 May 2017.

For all media enquiries, please contact the RAC press office team on +44 (0)1454 664 123. The line is manned by an on-call press officer outside office hours.

Our press team can:

  • Answer all RAC-related media enquiries
  • Provide comment on all topical UK motoring stories
  • Provide motoring research and data to inform debate
  • Give motoring advice for broadcast or publication
  • Arrange interviews with RAC spokespeople - ISDN radio studio facilities available

You can also follow the RAC press office on Twitter:

About the RAC

With more than eight million members, the RAC is one of the UK's most progressive motoring organisations, providing services for both private and business motorists. Whether it's roadside assistance, insurance, buying a used car, vehicle inspections and checks, legal services or up-to-the-minute traffic and travel information – the RAC offers a solution for all motoring needs. The RAC is committed to making motoring easier, safer, more affordable and more enjoyable for drivers and road users.

The RAC is the motorist’s champion and campaigns to support the interests of its members and UK motorists at a national level, including advancing levels of road safety, supporting the needs of young drivers and voicing concerns about the increasing cost of motoring. The RAC’s annual Report on Motoring – first published in 1989 – provides a clear insight into the concerns and issues facing today’s motorists.

For the very latest news on UK fuel prices, check RAC Fuel Watch or follow #racfuelwatch on Twitter. This is a comprehensive guide to the latest UK unleaded petrol and diesel prices – both at the wholesale level and at the pump. RAC Fuel Watch analyses how prices changed through the previous month and compares the most recent prices with those from three, six and 12 months before.

Key facts:

  • RAC patrols fix four out of five vehicles at the roadside and on average within 30 minutes
  • RAC vans carry more than 500 parts and tools to get members’ vehicles going again
  • 92% of members would recommend RAC Rescue to their friends and family