Petrol stations across Wales are beginning to see an easing of queues filling up forecourts, but rising fuel costs mean it could be a “pretty bleak” few weeks ahead for drivers.
Figures over the weekend showed the average price of a litre of petrol rose from 135.87p at the end of last week to 136.59p by Sunday, with prices at their highest for eight years. The price of diesel was also up to nearly 138p per litre.
By Tuesday, the average price of a litre of unleaded petrol was 136.50p, with diesel up to 138.78p. There are fears, according to the RAC, that petrol could rise to as much as 143p per litre and diesel could cost as much as 145p a litre in the next few weeks. To put that into context, the highest average price recorded for petrol is 142p per litre, which was recorded in April 2012.
The current rise comes after days of panic buying across the country which has resulted in huge queues as drivers have flocked to get fuel. It has seen a number of petrol stations running out of fuel in the past few days, closing altogether, or putting a cap on the amount one driver can purchase. You can see pictures of the queues that formed across Wales on Tuesday here.
Last week, BP admitted it had to close some petrol stations due to a shortage of lorry drivers – an issue which has been blamed primarily for the current crisis – by sparking fears that supplies would run out entirely across the country. This was despite repeated assurances that there was not a shortage of fuel in general, only what has now been caused by a spike in demand.
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On Wednesday, petrol stations across Wales appeared to be returning to something approaching normal, with no huge queues stretching out from the forecourts. However, some remained closed, while others have shut certain pumps.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the situation was improving, but the Army is expected to deliver petrol to certain parts of the country in the coming days. You can read more about that here. Meanwhile, in Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford tore into the UK Government’s handling of the situation by saying: “It is hard to imagine a government that has made a more derisory attempt to solve a problem of their own creation.”
The RAC has suggested that the stockpiling of fuel could be the result of “an array of images flooding social media showing lengthy queues of vehicles waiting to refill outside petrol stations”, something which then spurred others to do the same.
“While there’s no shortage of fuel at refineries, panic buying over the weekend means every forecourt in the country needs to re-stock at the same time which puts unbelievable pressure on the supply chain,” said Simon Williams, RAC fuel spokesman.
“We urge the Government to do everything in its power to plug the gaps in the supply chain and keep deliveries moving normally. But as so many drivers filled up over the weekend, there should be less overall demand as long as fuel makes its way back on to forecourts in the next few days.
“We urge drivers to only take the fuel they really need. Stockpiling in containers only makes the situation worse for those who desperately need fuel as well as potentially causing unnecessary fire risks if not stored correctly. It’s also vitally important the emergency services and businesses that help to keep the UK moving can get access to fuel. We have also seen an increase in our patrols attending drivers who have run out of fuel over the weekend.”
Mr Williams added that the cost of fuel might well rise further in the near future, and warned drivers to avoid overpaying for fuel with companies that were “taking advantage” of the current situation.
“When it comes to pump prices, it’s a pretty bleak picture for drivers,” he said. “With the cost of oil rising and now near a three-year high, wholesale prices are being forced up which means retailers are paying more than they were just a few days ago for the same amount of fuel. This has led to the price of a litre of unleaded already going up by a penny since Friday,” he said.
“We might yet see higher forecourt prices in the coming days, irrespective of the current supply problems. We are also aware of a small number of retailers taking advantage of the current delivery situation by hiking prices, so we’d remind drivers to always compare the price they’re being asked to pay.”
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