Fuel stations at risk of closure due to coronavirus

Rural filling station

Many filling stations will have to close in coming weeks as a collapse in demand makes businesses unviable.

The Petrol Retailers Association has warned rural fuel stations are particularly at risk.

Demand for petrol is down 75 percent, while diesel is down 71 percent as motorists heed government warnings to stay at home.

ALSO READ: How to find the cheapest petrol and diesel near you

This is having a severe impact on filling station businesses, says the PRA, where sales volumes have plunged.  

The association is now warning motorists in rural areas to check their local filling station is open before they travel to buy fuel.

“To help freight move and help key workers travel safely and independently through this period of crisis, petrol filling stations must remain open,” said PRA chairman Brian Madderson.

“But this is proving to be a challenge for many.”

The collapse in oil prices is not helping independent filling stations, either: a PRA survey suggests six in 10 have full storage tanks, purchased weeks earlier when oil prices were much higher.

“Fuel retailers are having to maintain pump prices at previous levels to avoid suffering significant losses,” said Mr Madderson.

“When the COVID-19 restrictions and high sales volumes return, then we expect to see reductions in retail fuel prices.”

He has asked the government to give smaller fuel retailers the same 60-day credit terms as those enjoyed by supermarkets.

Morrisons fuel filling station

Morrisons announces biggest ever cut to fuel prices

Morrisons fuel filling station

Morrisons has announced a record-breaking 12p a litre cut to petrol prices as global oil prices fall due to the coronavirus crisis.

Diesel prices have also fallen by 8p a litre.

The reductions will take the price of petrol at supermarket forecourts to around 104p a litre, while diesel should fall to 111p a litre.

ALSO SEE: Do I still need a car or motorcycle MOT during the coronavirus crisis?

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said the cuts are the largest the motoring organisation has ever seen from a fuel retailer.

“These unprecedented times are leading to unprecedented price cuts on fuel.

“These savings will directly benefit those people who continue to rely on their vehicles for essential journeys.”

Mr Williams did, however, urge motorists to heed government advice and “only travel if it absolutely needed”.

Darker side

Petrol prices will fall to a level last seen four years ago, said Mr Williams. Diesel will return to prices last seen in summer 2017.

“However, there is a darker side to these price cuts. Smaller independent forecourts who will already have been struggling due to a loss of trade recently will be extremely hard-pushed to reduce their prices at the present time with fewer people driving.

“It’s crucial they stay in business as they provide such an important service to drivers in parts of the country where the supermarkets have no footprint.”

Petrol could be 17p a litre CHEAPER, says RAC

oil price drops should mean petrol savings for motorists says RAC

The price of oil has plunged in recent weeks, culminating in what the RAC is calling “the biggest single daily drop in the oil price in 20 years”.

Fuel prices have been dropping, but there’s the potential for even more savings. The RAC says that UK motorists should not be content with the current savings. “Petrol and diesel are still overpriced despite two rounds of cuts from the supermarkets last month”.

That’s how RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams concluded his opening statement on what the plummeting price of oil should mean for UK drivers. He added: “The last time we saw the wholesale price of petrol this low was in March 2016 which led to an average price of 106p a litre two weeks later. That’s nearly 17p a litre below the current average of 122.85p”.

petrol pump

In the past, single-figure movements in per-litre prices were headline-worthy. Now, if fuel prices matched those of 2016, which were a response to oil prices the same as where they’re at today, serious savings could be made. Fifty-five litres of petrol could be £9.35 cheaper than the current average price.

The RAC is realistic, however. Such a drop based on a one-day fall in oil prices would be wishful thinking. However, motorists “ought to see at least 10p a litre coming off the price of unleaded in the next fortnight”. This “would produce an average of 113p – a price last seen in October 2016”.

“We strongly urge every fuel retailer – large and small – to pass on these savings as soon as possible. But we expect the big supermarkets who sell the lion’s share of fuel to lead the way with some swift and significant cuts in the next few days.”

Could the Chancellor see an opportunity for a cash grab?


It’s uncertain how the Chancellor will respond in the forthcoming Budget. Williams continued: “We strongly hope he does not see this as an opportunity to hike fuel duty given the current volatility of the oil market”.

Why has oil dropped in price?

Coronavirus has caused a slump in demand, with travel restrictions across the world. That’s been the cause of the overall drop over the last few weeks. We can thank Russia for the latest single-day drop, however. 

fuel prices drop coronavirus

“Ironically, the latest oil price collapse has been brought on by OPEC and its allies, principally Russia, failing to agree another round of production cuts to prop up the barrel price in the wake of the slump caused by the coronavirus impacting global demand,” Williams explained.

“Russia appears to want to keep the price of oil low to hurt the US’s shale oil production, while Saudi Arabia seems to want to make a point to Russia that it can withstand an even lower oil price as its cost of production is the lowest in the world.”

Coronavirus causes fastest decline in fuel prices for 20 years

Coronavirus causes sharpest fuel price drop for 20 years

The latest RAC Fuel Watch data gives some cause for celebration for motorists. Fuel prices have fallen at a speed not seen since the year 2000.

The decline is due to fears about the coronavirus, says the RAC. Over the course of February, unleaded petrol fell by around 3p per litre, while diesel fell by 4.2p per litre. 

That means the average petrol car with a 55-litre tank is now £1.61 cheaper to fill than it was in January. A typical diesel car is now £2.33 cheaper to fill.

Average prices for petrol and diesel sit at 124p per litre and 127p per litre respectively, down from 127p and 131p.

ultimate guide to find cheap fuel

Not only are these the sharpest drops since 2000, they’re actually on the leaderboard for all-time declines. The drop in petrol is the 19th fastest ever recorded, while the diesel drop ranks 11th.

So why the cheaper fuel? The price for a barrel of oil dropped by a sixth in the last 10 days of the month. Again, this is attributed to the coronavirus.

That left the end-of-month wholesale price of petrol at 90p per litre, with diesel at 92p per litre.

insurers don't always cover misfuelling

Because of this, the RAC is calling for fuel prices to drop further still. The last time wholesale prices were that low, petrol and diesel were 5p and 8p per litre cheaper at the pumps than they are now. 

“February was a good month for drivers with two rounds of supermarket price cuts,” said RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams.

fuel prices drop coronavirus

“These resulted in 3p being shaved off the average price of petrol and 4p off diesel. While it is good drivers are benefiting from lower forecourt prices, in reality, the wholesale price is such that the big four supermarkets, which dominate UK fuel retailing, should cut their prices again.

“The oil price has slumped due to the spread of the coronavirus prompting fears of slower global demand. This may well lead to a move from oil producer group OPEC and its allies to restrict production when they stage an extraordinary meeting in Vienna on Friday. If they decide to take action to prop up the barrel price it would very likely put an end to falling forecourt fuel prices.”

New advisory fuel rates March 2020

New advisory fuel rates published by HMRC

New advisory fuel rates March 2020

The latest advisory fuel rates (AFR) have been published by HM Revenue and Customs.

The changes for petrol, diesel and LPG cars will come into force on 1 March 2020 and apply to employees using a company car.

There’s no change for diesel cars with an engine size of 1,600cc or less, with the reimbursement rate remaining at 9p per mile. Similarly, the rate for 1,601cc to 2,000cc diesel engines stays at 11p per mile.

However, the AFR for diesel engines over 2,000cc is dropping from 14p to 13p. Similarly, the rate for petrol engines over 2,000cc is decreasing from 21p to 20p.

Petrol engines of 1,400cc or less stay at 12p, while the rate for 1,401cc to 2,000c petrol cars remains at 14p.

Hybrid cars are treated as either petrol or diesel cars for this purpose. Meanwhile, the rate for fully electric cars is 4p per mile – electricity is not a fuel for car benefit purposes.

The AFR for LPG cars with a 1,401cc to 2,000cc engine is increasing by a penny to 10p per mile. A summary of the new rates can be found in the table below.

HMRC calculates the AFR using current fuel prices. The details can be found here, but in summary, the current price of petrol is 123.8p per litre. Diesel is 128.2p, while LPG is listed at 68.5 per litre.

Fuel economy on LPG cars is assumed to be 20 percent lower than petrol due to lower volumetric energy density.

New advisory fuel rates for company cars

Advisory fuel rates from 1 March 2020

Engine size Petrol (per mile) LPG (per mile) Diesel (per mile)
1,400cc or less 12p 8p
1,401cc to 2,000cc 14p 10p
1,600cc or less 9p
1,601cc to 2,000cc 11p
Over 2,000cc 20p 14p 13p

What are advisory fuel rates?

Companies use the advisory fuel rates when reimbursing employees for business travel in their company cars or when they require employees to repay the cost of fuel used for private travel.

If a company pays for the expenses at a rate no higher than the AFR for the car in question, they are not required to pay Class 1A National Insurance. It is accepted that there is no taxable profit gained.

However, a company can use its own rate where a lower rate is required. An example could be if a company car is proven to be more fuel efficient than the AFR suggests.

The government reviews the advisory fuel rates on a quarterly basis, so the next update will be on 1 June 2020.

Motorists 'demand action' against extortionate motorway fuel prices

Motorists want action against ‘exploitative’ motorway fuel prices

Motorists 'demand action' against extortionate motorway fuel prices

A poll of 1,415 motorists has found 90 percent want action taken against fuel vendors with significantly higher prices on motorways. Motorway fuel prices can be up to 37 pence per litre more.

Additionally, 94 percent of drivers said they want to see the price of motorway-sold fuel brought into line with prices elsewhere. The government already announced plans to investigate high prices at motorway filling stations. However, little has come of it so far in terms of price changes.

According to the RAC Fuel Watch, the current average price of diesel in the UK is 127p per litre, while petrol 124p is per litre. Yet many motorway filling station charge much more.

ultimate guide to find cheap fuel

As an example, I just checked a route on Waze from where I live in Suffolk down to Brands Hatch in Kent. Prices for petrol didn’t go over 131p per litre all the way down the A11. However, as soon as the route switched to the M11, Birchanger Services popped up as the next stop, with a dizzying fuel price of 147p per litre.

If I were to fill a 55-litre tank at Birchanger, therefore, I’d pay £80, instead of £69 at my local vendor. That’s an £11 difference.

Asda fuel savings 2020

“The results of the Motorpoint poll clearly show the strength of feeling among motorists about the ‘exploitative’ price of fuel on our motorways,” said Mark Carpenter, chief executive officer at Motorpoint.

“While many drivers value having the services available, and don’t mind paying a small premium for the convenience, the current disparity between the price of fuel on our motorways and the price of fuel elsewhere are completely unjustifiable and action is needed to bring them more in line with each other.”

The ultimate guide to finding cheaper fuel

Fuel prices

There’s been a lot of talk about petrol and diesel in the news of late. Most notably, it’s been announced that cars powered by combustible fuels will be banned from sale within 15 years.

Also, consumers are still facing high fuel prices, in spite of the Coronavirus outbreak bringing wholesale oil costs down.

Happily, there are a number of ways you can track down the best deals. Here’s our complete guide to finding the cheapest petrol and diesel near you.

Latest petrol and diesel prices in the UK

Car fuel gauge

First, let’s set a baseline. What are the average prices for petrol and diesel in Britain right now? The RAC has a Fuel Watch tool that reveals all.

As of February 4 2020, diesel is 131p per litre, unleaded petrol is 126.2p and super unleaded is 139.2p. The RAC says all are highly likely to decrease in the coming weeks.

In the Norfolk/Suffolk/Cambridgeshire/Hertfordshire areas that we often frequent, we don’t have to go too far to find petrol at 123p for a litre. Diesel is still pretty steep, at around 127p.

So there’s your target petrol and diesel prices right now. Let’s see how to get the cheapest fuel near you…

Connected cars

Audi Connect

If you’re in a new car with a built-in SIM card and the latest infotainment system – for instance, an Audi equipped with Audi Connect – your route to the cheapest fuel in your area should be very swift indeed.

Audi Connect utilises an online database to find fuel stations with the cheapest fuel options for you. Simply follow your way through the infotainment to the petrol stations icon where it says ‘Refuel for the best price’ (see image above).

Many manufacturers over the past couple of years have been taking similar measures to get connected and will likely offer a similar service – it’s worth asking the salesman as you shop around for the best car deals. Great stuff if it works…


Waze fuel finder

And if it doesn’t… Waze is a free user-supported navigation app for iPhone and Android. Accident alerts, roadworks, camera locations and more are fed in as contributions from people using the app, thereby keeping information up to date for the entire user base in that local area.

That user contribution-based system isn’t limited to route planning, either. One incredibly useful feature is the fuel station finder complete with, you guessed it, prices to match. If the BP up the road from your hotel is a bit heady at 129p a litre, Waze might show you a Tesco five miles away that’s down at 124p. We are quite literally dealing with pennies here, but if you have a long journey ahead, you’d save £2.50 on a 50-litre fill-up.

What are the drawbacks? Well, depending on where you are, the user-supported nature can be patchy. In busy urban areas, it’s great. Savvy commuters are always online, keeping the app’s information fresh on all of the above, including fuel prices. Find yourself further out in the sticks, however, and it falters. The user base is Waze’s most precious resource and if that dries up, well, so does Waze. The ads can get irritating, too, but ads make the world go round!

Regardless, it’s a handy first port of call to have installed on your phone.

Price comparison websites fuel guide

We mean that in the actual sense, and its dedicated cheapest fuel price finder near you tool.

Sign up for free, pop in your postcode, tick whether you want stations that are open at that particular time and away you go. It’s a clean and crisp facility. The semi-regular weekly update can catch you by surprise price-wise if there’s a sudden hike in between updates.

By and large, the cheapest stays the cheapest, though, regardless of universal hikes. One thing none of these facilities can do is keep prices down. The main drawback really is that you’ll have to search for your chosen watering hole on a map separately.

That’s where comes in, in a manner of speaking. Like Confused, you plug in your postcode but the filling stations come up on a map within a radius around your chosen postcode. It seems to be the best of the website-based facilities that feature a map.

Where Petrolprices falters is in its clunkiness (we suspect due to the ads) and the fact that to get rid of them, it’s a £20-a-year subscription as standard. Whats more, some of the fuel stations, while marked out on the map, are kept anonymous. It’ll only show you all of them if you get that subscription. You may prefer to use and search the station on a map.

Fuel prices

Know your brands

One thing it’s easy to overlook is just having a general knowledge of fuel station brands. The general rule is that supermarket filling stations are cheaper than branded stops like Shell, BP and so on. Especially if you’re in the market for the juicier stuff. We found in a recent stop at Tesco that Momentum (99 Octane) came in at the same price as the standard 95 stuff from a nearby Shell.

Want proof? The AA produces a regular report on fuel prices, and the results are conclusive. The average at supermarkets is nearly always cheaper than the national average – in the case of February, 4.5p cheaper than average.

Asda regularly sets the standard for fuel price drops, with the most recent coming at the end of January. Its prices are set country-wide, too. If you’ve got a big shop planned, Tesco can be a worthwhile stop. It often runs a 10p discount per litre of fuel bought if you spend over a certain amount (usually £40 or more) in-store.

M6 motorway

A general rule of thumb? Stay well away from motorway service stations unless you want to pay a huge premium for a litre over literally anywhere else.

So, if you’re in an unfamiliar area and want a safe bet on cheap fuel, simply ask someone where the local supermarket filling station is.

Fuel prices RISE in January despite FALL in wholesale costs

fuel price rises saudi attacks

Fuel prices went up last month, despite a fall in the wholesale cost of petrol and diesel.

Data from RAC Fuel Watch shows the wholesale price of unleaded fell by 4.3p, while diesel dropped 7.5p across the month. This should, in theory, have led to a reduction at the pumps.

Instead, the average UK price of a litre of petrol is 127.60p – up 0.92p from the start of January. The price of diesel also went up by the same amount, finishing the month at 132.04p.

Refuelling at a supermarket should save you money. The RAC data reveals average prices of 123.69p for unleaded and 128.14p for diesel. At the end January, Asda announced it was cutting fuel price by 3p per litre.

There are regional variations. Filling up is likely to be more expensive in London and the South East, but around 4p cheaper in Northern Ireland.

Overall, it’s now 50p more expensive to fill a 55-litre tank than it was at the start of the year. Petrol is now £70.18, while diesel is £72.62.

‘Rocket and feather’

Drivers should be angry about small fuel price drops say the RAC

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “Based on steadily falling wholesale prices, January should have been a good month for drivers at the pumps, but instead they ended up being paying well over the odds. In fact, January was a perfect example of ‘rocket and feather’ pricing where prices go up far faster than they come down.

“Retailers were very quick to protect themselves from a slight jump in the price of oil caused by the tensions between Iran and the US at the start of January by putting up forecourt prices, but when the cost of a barrel dropped back, for some reason, retail prices carried on going up.

“Our biggest retailers – the supermarkets – blatantly resisted passing on the savings they were making to drivers until the RAC publicly called on them to do so on 27 January when RAC Fuel Watch data showed there was scope for a large cut. Two days later a headline-grabbing 3p a litre cut was announced.

“This was clearly good news, but it’s hard to congratulate retailers on doing something they should have done at least a week before. Even since the cut pump prices are still out of kilter with what’s been happening on the wholesale market. As things stand now – despite the cuts – petrol is still 5p too expensive and diesel over 7p too dear.

“We strongly urge retailers of all sizes to play fair with drivers and cut their forecourt prices. Going forwards we call on them to charge prices that more closely mirror drops in the cost they buy fuel in at in the same way they do when prices go up.”

Click here for some handy fuel-saving tips.

Asda cuts fuel prices by 3p per litre

Asda fuel savings 2020

Recent rises in fuel costs have been reversed by supermarket chain Asda, which has cut pump prices for petrol and diesel by 3p per litre. The discount applies from today (January 29).

That means Asda fuel stations across the country will be offering petrol at 120p per litre, and diesel at 124p per litre.

fuel prices drop coronavirus

“Average UK petrol and diesel pump prices have been at their highest for a January since 2014 and, despite wholesale costs declining over the past two to three weeks, they have stayed stubbornly above 128p a litre for petrol and 132.5p for diesel,” said Luke Bosdet, the AA’s fuel price spokesman.

“This new price cut is in line with wholesale petrol falling from an average of 39.4p a litre in early January to the 37.0p between Wednesday and Friday last week.”

As the RAC reported, the drops in the cost of fuel could partially be down to the rise of the Coronavirus in China, and the resulting sharp drop in travel. Less travel means increased supply, which means a lower price. This followed the tensions between America and Iran causing fuel prices to jump in the early weeks of January.

Fuel vouchers in January: ‘quite simply mean’Diesel car fuel filler

Bosdet goes on to criticise other supermarkets that are passing on savings to customers in a roundabout way. Fuel vouchers mean that drivers can get 5p off per litre of fuel they buy, but only if they spend a certain amount in-store.

“Once again, if you’re on a low income and your spending power isn’t up to it, you miss out,” Bosdet followed.

“Given the time of year with customers trying to pay off Christmas debts and fuel costs falling dramatically, that discrimination is quite simply mean.”

fuel prices drop coronavirus

Why the Coronavirus could lead to lower petrol prices

fuel prices drop coronavirus

One indirect effect of the Coronavirus crisis in China could be a reduction in UK fuel prices.

That’s according to the RAC, which says oil use in China has fallen due to travel restrictions and anxieties around the virus. This, in turn, has led to a drop in the price of crude oil. Prices fell below $60 a barrel last Friday, with the RAC claiming there could be further to go.

The news follows rises in the price of fuel following the tensions and conflict between the United States and Iran.

fuel prices dropping 2019

By the RAC’s reckoning, there’s room for petrol and diesel to fall by 4p and 5p per litre respectively over the next two weeks. Assuming, that is, that fuel retailers ‘play fair’ with consumers. 

“Some drivers are no doubt aware that fuel prices in the UK are affected by global events, but many will be shocked to hear the coronavirus outbreak in China should lead to the price of petrol and diesel falling dramatically,” said RAC fuel spokesman, Simon Williams.

Asda fuel prices

“We urge the supermarkets, who are so influential in what drivers pay for fuel due to their massive market share, to pass on the wholesale savings they’re benefiting to motorists at the pumps, especially as they have actually increased forecourt petrol prices every day since 2 January.

“Drivers have been unfairly punished as a result of the very short-term oil price rise caused by tensions in the Middle East. It seems as though the big four supermarkets have been capitalising on this as the oil price has fallen steadily from a high of $69.82 on 6 January to $59.75 on 24 January.

“This is the first time oil has been under $60 a barrel since 31 October 2019.”