We’ve had a lot of PetrolPrices members contact us and ask the question, why is diesel so much more expensive than petrol at the minute? Rather than having to write a long article for each person, we thought it would be better to share with everyone why diesel is so much more expensive at the minute.

Data from PetrolPrices.com shows that since the end of March prices have been steadily rising, and industry experts are predicting that this will continue, especially for diesel, as we head into colder weather.

The price rises so far this year

The price started rising in early April due to backlash after the chemical weapons attack in Syria, oil prices skyrocketed and buyers upped the wholesale cost to mitigate any loss in costs. This was followed in May as worry surrounded America’s potential sanctions on Iran would be, as well as a trade war.

Instability in the oil-producing regions over the summer has not helped and the oil price has continued to rise on average and has been consistently over $80 a barrel recently. The weakened dollar to pound conversion in light of Brexit has also created a higher wholesale price.

More recently oil prices have been affected by low production across countries such as Venezuela, and fighting in Libya caused a decrease in output, meaning that OPEC targets were not met.

Why is diesel so expensive currently?

In the fractional distillation process, where the crude oil is boiled down to usable products such as LPG, petrol, diesel and bitumen. Petrol has a lower boiling point than diesel and therefore uses less energy to be produced making it slightly cheaper in the first instance.

Currently, across Europe, everyone is upping their central heating as cooler weather kicks in and so the price of diesel rises as heating oil is very similar to diesel, so consumers have to compete with those burning oil for heating purposes. This means that while the oil price hasn’t changed much, there is a considerable difference between the cost of diesel and petrol currently.

The price disparity

We looked in our database of prices and found out the biggest price differences between petrol and diesel in towns across the UK and found the top five.

Data was collected between 15th October and 23rd October and all data was taken from the PetrolPrices.com database

In the top spot, we had Dunoon, in Argyll and Bute, Scotland, with a price disparity of 10.9ppl between petrol and diesel. Following in second came another Scottish town, the burgh of Kirriemuir in Angus had a difference of 10.05ppl. At position three and four are two Welsh towns, Cwmbran with a 9.9ppl difference and Pontarddulais with a 9.66ppl difference. Scotland also brought up the rear with Usk having a 9.65 ppl price difference.

Ashley Beach, Data Analyst at PetrolPrices.com, said “Since the 22nd of September the average price of diesel has risen from 134.5ppl to 136.6ppl with it reaching a maximum average of 137ppl. The price of unleaded however has averaged 131.3ppl over the same period, causing a huge increase in the price discrepancy between the two fuels. As of the 20th of October, the price difference has maximised for this year at 5.6ppl, a monumental 138% increase since the start of the year when this difference was just 2.34ppl. The UK hasn’t seen a price difference anywhere near this size since early 2015 when the difference averaged 7.3ppl in that January and saw a maximum of 9.5ppl difference during the month.”

Currently, wholesale prices also show a very different picture with the unleaded wholesale price dropping rapidly and there has been up to a 7p difference between the unleaded and the diesel wholesale price. These large differences in the wholesale price have led to an even more substantial difference at the pumps, as shown by our data above.

High diesel prices

Diesel drivers are already experiencing higher prices for driving at the minute, and with more cities introducing congestion charges, it feels as though there is a constant tirade of additional costs thrown at them.

Some diesel drivers will now have to pay up to £100 a day to drive in certain Ultra Low Emission Zones across the country, as well as higher parking charges in multiple councils and in some cases, complete bans at certain hours of the day in city centres.

What can diesel drivers do?

At the moment, apart from buying a new car that isn’t diesel, there isn’t much that diesel drivers can do. Governments are already pushing to remove combustion engines earlier than expected so trying seems futile.

One thing you could do is sign a petition to call on the government to incentivise the removal of diesel, rather than criminalise them PetrolPrices.com does not endorse this petition, we simply wish to make our members aware of a current debate happening, and if someone chooses to act on this then that is on their own choice and not from us. We have not been paid to promote this and have no connection to the petition owner. You can sign the petition here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/228534

When driving a diesel car, especially as the pump prices are so high, you can improve your fuel consumption by following the below:

Don’t use unnecessary speed. The Department for Transport figures states you’ll use up to 9% more fuel driving at 70mph than you would at 60mph and up to 25% more fuel travelling at 80mph instead of 70mph. The faster you drive, the greater your fuel consumption. Set off a little before you need to, to avoid feeling rushed.

Don’t think slow driving is always best though. To drive well below the speed limit on motorways, etc, is dangerous. It’s also unlikely to save much fuel. Conserve momentum. This is as important for fuel consumption as not driving too fast.

Drive at the lowest speed you can, in the highest gear possible. Car manufacturers quote the most fuel-efficient driving speed as 55/56mph.

What do you think of the high prices? Will this affect you or your family? How should the government help diesel drivers? Let us know below

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