Petrol Prices

Since March 1983, I have kept a detailed record of fuel prices and fuel consumption, spanning sixteen different cars, both privately-owned and company. This table records the movement in fuel prices over that period, taking in each year the first fuel purchase in March. Prices are for leaded 4-star up to 1988, and unleaded thereafter. This roughly corresponds to the point when unleaded took over from 4-star as the standard fuel.

During the period covered by the table, "real" fuel prices fell between 1983 and 1992, encouraging a boom in road traffic, but then rose sharply due to the "fuel duty escalator", resulting in the fuel protest of 2000. At this time, fuel prices had risen by over 50% in five years, which undoubtedly caused much hardship.

The table also does not show peak prices in my local area, which were 224.6p/gallon (49.4p/litre) in October 1990, following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, and 390.5p/gallon (85.9p/litre) in June 2000, just before the fuel protest. Around this time I even paid 404.1p/gallon (88.9p/litre) in the Scottish Highlands. It seems that peak prices tend to occur in the autumn, and March, just as winter demand is tailing off, is often a low point in the year.

Even though fuel duty was cut by 1p/litre in March 2011 and has been frozen since, the continued high level of the international oil price led to the March 2013 price being the highest ever in absolute terms, and equalling the record in "real" terms. In the second half of 2014 the oil price effectively halved, although obviously the effect on pump prices was limited by the high fixed element of duty. It fell further during 2015, resulting in the lowest pump prices for some years in the early part of 2016, although it subsequently rallied a little. The March 2016 figure was 10% below that of 1983 in real terms, and showed a 20% fall over the past five years. The cheapest I paid personally was 458.7p/gallon (100.9p per litre), and some prices were reported of 454.1p/gallon (99.9p/litre), with diesel often a little lwoer still.

Of the March 2016 price of 103.9p/litre, 75.3p or 72.5% went to the government (57.95p fuel duty and 17.32p VAT).

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Petrol Prices 1983-2016
Year Price per Litre (p) Price per Gallon () Retail
Prices
Index
Petrol Price
in constant terms
(1983=100)
5-year
% increase
1983 36.7 1.670 83.1 100.0 -
1984 38.7 1.759 87.5 100.0 -
1985 42.8 1.946 92.8 104.3 -
1986 38.2 1.737 96.7 89.4 -
1987 37.8 1.719 100.6 85.0 -
1988 34.7 1.578 104.1 75.4 -5.5
1989 38.4 1.746 112.3 77.4 -0.7
1990 40.2 1.828 121.4 74.9 -6.1
1991 39.5 1.796 131.4 68.0 3.4
1992 40.3 1.832 136.7 66.7 6.6
1993 45.9 2.087 139.3 74.6 32.3
1994 48.9 2.223 133.1 77.6 27.3
1995 50.9 2.314 147.5 78.1 26.6
1996 52.9 2.405 151.5 79.0 33.9
1997 57.9 2.632 155.4 84.3 43.7
1998 60.9 2.769 160.8 85.7 32.7
1999 61.9 2.814 164.1 85.3 26.6
2000 76.9 3.496 168.4 103.3 51.1
2001 77.9 3.541 173.1 101.8 47.2
2002 69.9 3.178 174.5 90.6 20.7
2003 77.9 3.541 179.9 98.0 27.9
2004 77.9 3.541 184.6 95.5 25.8
2005 79.9 3.632 190.5 95.0 3.9
2006 88.9 4.041 195.0 103.2 14.1
2007 87.9 3.996 204.4 97.4 25.6
2008 103.9 4.723 212.1 110.9 33.4
2009 89.9 4.087 211.3 96.2 15.4
2010 111.9 5.087 220.7 114.8 40.1
2011 129.9 5.905 232.5 126.5 46.1
2012 134.1 6.096 240.8 126.1 52.6
2013 138.9 6.314 248.7 126.5 33.7
2014 130.9 5.951 254.8 116.3 45.6
2015 109.9 4.996 257.1 96.8 -1.8
2016 103.9 4.723 261.1 90.0 -20.0

Note: this column represents the % increase over 5 years in the non inflation adjusted petrol price.

(Last updated April 2016)

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