Petrol prices 'cause for concern' - CMA
The Competition and Markets Authority is to launch a full review of the UK’s forecourts after its preliminary probe into petrol and diesel prices raised concerns.
The watchdog was asked by business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng to investigate the market last month. Fuel prices have been hit hard by surging inflation as well as the war in Ukraine, and the government responded in March with plans to cut fuel duty by 5p to 52.95p. But Kwarteng said he was concerned that the cut had not been universally passed onto consumers.
The CMA said that "on the whole", the fuel duty cut appeared to have been implemented, with larger retailers doing so more quickly than smaller rivals.
But it also found "significant differences" in price between many rural and urban areas, and flagged concerns about the growing gap between the price of crude oil when it enters refineries, and the wholesale price when it leaves as petrol or diesel.
It has therefore launched a full market study to examine the market in more depth, which will allow it to use compulsory information gathering powers.
Sarah Cardell, CMA general counsel and incoming interim chief executive, said: "While there is no escaping the global pressures pushing up fuel price, the growing cap between the oil price and the wholesale price of petrol and diesel, is a cause for concern.
"We now need to get to the bottom of whether there are legitimate reasons for this and if not, what action can be taken to address.
"On the whole the retail market does seem to be competitive, but there are some areas that warrant further investigation."
The CMA will publish an interim update in the autumn.