Page last updated at 17:04 GMT, Thursday, 8 April 2010 18:04 UK

Petrol price hits record high

Drivers react to petrol prices reaching a record high

The average price of unleaded petrol has hit a new high of 119.9p a litre, analysts Experian Catalist have said.

Prices have been increasing steadily since the end of last year as the pound has weakened, which makes imported fuel more expensive.

The previous record was 119.7p, reached in July 2008 when the price of oil peaked at $147 a barrel.

Rising wholesale prices have also added to the price, as well as a 1p rise in fuel duty which took effect on 1 April.

A further 1p rise in duty is due in October and an increase of 0.76p is set for January 2011.

Varying prices

We can only hope that the 6 May election produces a result that strengthens the pound and puts downward pressure on pump prices
Paul Watters, AA

"This is a dark day for motorists," said RAC motoring strategist Adrian Tink.

"Petrol prices have been rising steadily over the past year and have now reached the inevitable record high.

"However, this is only the average. In some areas, motorists will be paying close to £6 a gallon (131.9p a litre)."

According to price comparison site, the most expensive petrol station in the country is on the M1 motorway in Buckinghamshire, which is charging 130.9p a litre.

The cheapest are two stations in Yorkshire, which are charging 114.9p a litre.

Breakdown of the cost of one litre of petrol

The average price of diesel is currently 120.65p a litre, according to Experian Catalist, still well below the record average of 133.25p, also set in July 2008.

Weak pound

Brendan McLoughlin at says the fall in the value of sterling is the main reason behind the rise.

"We have seen fuel duty rises too, but the impact of the exchange rate has been the single largest cause of rising pump prices lately."

The pound has fallen by about 15 cents against the dollar in the past few months.

In November, it was trading at $1.67. It is currently trading at $1.52.

Another reason for the rising price on the forecourt is increased refining costs, which have pushed up the wholesale price of petrol.

This, together with currency movements, helps to explain the record petrol price despite the fact that oil currently costs about $85 a barrel, well below the $147 a barrel it cost when petrol prices were last this high.

The best hope for a fall in the price of petrol, according to the AA, is for the pound to strengthen.

"We can only hope that the 6 May election produces a result that strengthens the pound and puts downward pressure on pump prices," said the motoring group's Paul Watters.

Petrol prices since the start of 2007

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