Falling oil prices spark petrol war

22 July 2008

BP has joined three leading supermarkets in cutting the price of its petrol in light of the slight fall in crude oil costs.

ASDA, Sainbury’s and Morrisons say they will pass on the reduced cost to their customers, a boost for drivers who have been hit with higher fuel costs for most of the year.

Hot on their heels, BP has also said it will reduce price tags on petrol and diesel at the 310 stations where it controls prices by 2p a litre on average.

ASDA has cut the price of its petrol by 3p a litre across all of its 170 petrol forecourts across the UK. This will see the price of unleaded petrol drop to 113.9p per litre and diesel fall to 128.9p per litre.

Morrisons and Sainbury’s have also responded to the recent fall in oil prices, with the former slashing petrol prices by 4p a litre across all of its 285 petrol stations.

However, unlike its rivals, Sainsbury’s will implement price cuts on a local level, matching local competition, It is also offering a fuel promotion, with 5p off the cost of petrol for customers who spend £50 or more on food in store. The fuel promotion is only available until 7 August.

David Miles, trading director at ASDA, says he hopes other retailers follow suit and reduce the cost of petrol.

"We are seeing a more stable reduction in oil prices allowing us to pass on the savings to customers,” he adds. “The latest price cut is a further example of ASDA making motoring more affordable and illustrates our commitment to passing on cost savings to our customers."

Over the last few weeks, the price per barrel has gone from its peak of $147 to around $130.

Mark Gunter, group store operations director at Morrisons, says: “The cost of crude oil and refined product has fallen in the last few days and we are ensuring our customers reap the benefit by passing on the saving quickly, for cheaper prices at the pumps.”

Tesco says it has no plans to reduce the cost of its petrol on a national scale as, like Sainsbury's, it prices fuel based on local competition.

However, a spokesman tells Moneywise: "For the past three to four weeks, we've been offering a fuel promotion of 5p off petrol for customers that spend £50 or more in our stores. We also price locally, so if ASDA costs reduce then this may mean ours also go down.

"We are doing as much - if not more - as other supermarkets."

The AA says petrol and diesel prices hit a plateau in July, with average prices between mid-June to mid-July rising by just 1.5p - compared to rises of up to 7p a month seen the previous month. Diesel prices also rose more slowly.

"It's difficult to be sure that petrol prices have reached their peak, but in the climate of high price volatility, the UK has come as close as it has in the past five months to a halt in soaring prices," says AA president Edmund King.

According to the AA, average petrol currently costs 119p a litre and diesel 132.7p a litre.  

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