Northern Ireland motorists have been given respite from pump price pressures after three major supermarkets engaged in a price war.
Asda was first to announce that it was cutting the cost of petrol and diesel by 2p a litre; Sainsbury’s then followed suit, and, finally, Tesco said that it, too, would be chopping fuel prices by up to 2p a litre from today.
However, while the cuts represent good news, motoring organisation the AA said that hard-pressed drivers are still being overcharged for petrol and diesel.
Furthermore, despite these new reductions, the cost of unleaded remains higher than it was at the beginning of last month.
At that time Asda had capped prices at 129.7p a litre — or 1p a litre cheaper than today’s promise — while diesel has moved back to exactly the same price.
The AA’s June Fuel Price Report showed that the average UK price of petrol rose from 133.35p in mid-May to 134.61p in mid-June. Diesel, meanwhile, went up from 138.17p, on average across the UK, to 139.16p a litre — 4.5p more than unleaded.
In Northern Ireland, however, where fuel prices are consistently higher, petrol is now sitting at 135.8p a litre, while diesel is priced at 139.8p.
Consequently, the motoring watchdog has criticised retailers for exploiting customers by charging over the odds for diesel.
AA president Edmund King said its monthly market analysis revealed that retailers had on average this year been charging at least 1p per litre extra for diesel.
“For the past six weeks, retailers have been paying 2p-3p more a litre (to the oil companies) for diesel compared to petrol.
“Yet, when they sell it to drivers, diesel is typically around 4p more expensive than petrol,” he explained.
Last week official figures from HMRC indicated that a price battle towards the end of April triggered a rise in UK petrol sales. The increase helped Government tax receipts on unleaded fuel rise to £904m in May, up £28m on April and £107m higher than in March. The AA showed that high prices were forcing 69% of motorists to cut back on car use.