Jan 30 2013 By Cheryl Mullin
CAMPAIGNERS say they are “bitterly disappointed” that the competition watchdog has ruled out a full investigation into the fuel market after concluding high prices are the fault of taxes and the cost of crude oil.
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) said competition in the sector was “working well” and there was “very limited evidence” that pump prices rise quickly when the wholesale price goes up but fall more slowly when it drops.
Furious campaigners, who had called on the OFT to announce a full investigation into the sector, said drivers would feel let down by the findings.
FairFuelUK spokesman Quentin Willson said: “UK consumers will be bitterly disappointed. The nation will feel let down. Quite frankly, I’m shocked. The OFT investigated in 1998 and now have done so again. Every motorist and business in Britain instinctively knows that something’s not right. The Americans and the Germans are holding inquiries - why aren’t we?
“The OFT appears to have failed to address the key issues of why diesel is more expensive than unleaded in the UK when this is not the case in Europe, why falls in the oil price take so long to be reflected at the pump and why there are such variations in price, often from the same branded forecourts, within the same area.
“They did not address the whistleblower evidence of potential rigging of the oil commodity market. Where is the fairness in all of this?”
RAC technical director David Bizley said: “UK consumers have seen a 38% increase in the price of petrol and a 43% increase in diesel costs between 2007 and 2012. The reasons behind this massive rise need to be conveyed clearly to the motoring public and justified so that households, businesses and the economy as a whole are not harmed by ever-increasing pump prices.
“It is a great shame the OFT has not taken this opportunity to instigate a full investigation into this issue which many motorists view as daylight robbery. Our members want to see fairness and transparency and the authorities and industry bodies have an obligation to deliver this. We strongly urge the OFT to reconsider the decision.”
AA president Edmund King said: “The OFT sees the fuel pricing market as competitive but this clashes with drivers’ frustration on the forecourts. If fuel pricing is fair and competitive, there is no reason not to publish petrol and diesel wholesale prices to prove the point and reassure motorists.
“The OFT are not ruling out action at local level and its call for motorway fuel price signs could bring more competition. But drivers deserve a better explanation of why prices fluctuate wildly and who is driving this - from the pump back to the well.”