By Jon Howe
Despite the festive drop in fuel prices, drivers have still paid more to fill up their tanks over the course of this year than they did last year.
According to AA figures, prices have averaged 136.40p per litre for petrol and 142.48p for diesel over the whole of the year. This compares to 2011, where the averages were 133.65p and 138.94p per litre, respectively.
To fill an entire tank it has cost on average £1.50 more in 2012 for petrol users, compared to last year, and £1.75 more for diesel motorists.
The dip towards the end of the year is reflected in the fact that the mid-December average for petrol, of 132.32p a litre, is almost exactly the same price charged at the beginning of the year, and also 2.76p cheaper than the mid-November average. Similarly, diesel was 140.56p at the start of the year, now averages at 140.38p, and was 141.89p in mid-November.
Looking at the UK regionally, the cheapest petrol at the moment is in Yorkshire & Humberside, where the average price is 131.7p a litre, whilst Northern Ireland has the dearest average at 133.1p.
Again, diesel follows suit, with Yorkshire & Humberside showing the cheapest at 139.7p and Northern Ireland the dearest at 141.3p.
AA president Edmund King claims that supermarkets generally dictate the cost of fuel regionally. Towns and cities with a more competitive concentration of supermarkets see a localised price jam, as the other petrol retailers try to compete with the supermarkets. Elsewhere, towns with less competitive supermarkets can see up to 5p per litre more on their fuel bills.
Back in 2009, the general complaint was that fuel had breached the £1 per litre mark for the first time. At that time, the average petrol price was 100.02p and 104.38p for diesel. Consequently, the steep increase in the last three years has meant only in Italy do drivers give petrol retailers a poorer score than in the UK, according to the AA's reference to a recent EU consumer survey.
Mr King put the situation into perspective, by concluding that while petrol prices were currently lower than for the majority of 2012, motorists have still paid 2.75p per litre more than over the previous year.