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Call for information on the UK petrol and diesel fuels sector

Start date: 5 September 2012
Completed date: 30 January 2013

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On 5 September 2012, the OFT launched a call for information to investigate claims that the UK petrol and diesel sectors are not working well. The aim was to identify whether there are competition problems that the OFT could address to improve the way the sector functions.

There are a number of specific issues that the OFT has gathered information on:

  • whether there are local areas where a lack of competition is leading to higher prices
  • whether independent dealers are able to compete fairly with supermarkets and oil companies
  • whether pump prices rise more quickly in response to increases in crude oil or wholesale road fuel prices than they move downwards in response to falling crude oil or wholesale prices (this is often referred to as rocket and feather pricing) 
  • whether speculation or manipulation in crude oil markets or crude oil futures markets could be leading to higher pump prices, and
  • whether inaccurate oil or wholesale road fuel price reporting could be leading to higher pump prices.

The evidence gathered by the OFT suggests that at national level competition is working well in the UK road fuel sector, although it has identified an absence of pricing information on motorways as a concern and does not rule out taking action in some local markets if there is credible evidence of anti-competitive behaviour.

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Update: 20 March 2013

In response to the OFT's call for the Government to improve pricing information on motorways, the Government announced on 20 March 2013 that it will work with motorway service areas and other relevant bodies to improve the availability and visibility of motorway fuel price information for motorway users.

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Senior Responsible Officer: Claire Hart (020 7211 8782

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