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UK fuel prices soar as diesel hit 'scary' all time-high

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A sign displays the price per litre of petrol and diesel fuels, outside a filling station on the M23 motorway
The price of petrol in Britain hit a record high the RAC motoring organisation said last week. Photo by Glyn Kirk/AFP via Getty Images

The average price of diesel across the UK hit a "scary" new record high, according to the RAC, as its new data revealed increasing prices of oil and biodiesel.

The British automotive services company's most recent data showed diesel cost 147.94p a litre on 31 October, surpassing the previous high of 147.93p set on 12 April 2012.

The price of a litre of diesel has gone up 30p a litre in a year, which means filling up a 55-litre tank costs £16 ($21.8) more – going up from £65 to £81.

About a week ago, petrol also breached the record price of April 2012 at 142.48p. Since then it has gone higher still, peaking at 144.35p on 31 October.

Watch: Petrol prices shoot up to record highs

The prime reason for higher prices is the fact that has doubled to above $80 from $40 a barrel a year ago – at the time of writing, Brent Crude futures (BZ=F) were trading at $83.37. But the price of diesel is also affected by the high cost of biodiesel.

Currently, around 10% of the diesel at forecourts consists of biodiesel, which contributes around 16p a litre to the cost, whereas ‘pure’ diesel (93%) makes up around 40p.

Read more: COP26: UK to become world's first net zero financial hub, says Sunak

Biodiesel is also three-and-a-half times the price of diesel itself on the wholesale market – a tonne costs around £1,800 whereas diesel is £520.

The new record price will be felt by the UK’s 12.5 million diesel car drivers, according to the RAC, along with increasing costs to businesses. The UK has 4.5 million vans, the vast majority of which run on diesel, and 525,000 heavy goods vehicles.

“While this isn’t unexpected as petrol has already hit a new record price, it’s still another body blow to drivers and businesses across the country who were already struggling to cope with rising prices,” said RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams.

“As well as hitting household budgets this will have a knock-on effect on the price we pay for goods and services as diesel is very much the fuel of business and, as such, will contribute further to inflation.

Williams also said that unlike petrol where retailers have increased their margin on every litre sold compared to 2012, the profit being taken on diesel is the same as it was nine and a half years ago.

More recently, a fuel supply crisis caused by a shortage of lorry drivers had forced the UK government to draft in the army amid long queues at petrol stations.

Watch: Why can't governments just print more money?

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