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“I can confirm the £10 gallon of fuel has arrived”

Mike Rutherford is sad to report the first sighting of premium petrol at 222.9p in the UK. The £10 gallon is upon us.

Mike Rutherford opinion

When, in the final days of last month, I predicted the imminent arrival of the £2 litre, I hadn’t expected it to be dumped on us quite so soon. But barely into the second week of March it landed. 

At one of the last filling stations before the port of Dover, I spotted and photographed regular diesel being sold to drivers at an extortionate 206.9 pence a litre. This is equivalent to £9.40 a gallon. And that’s the unjustifiably high price family motorists were expected to pay as they headed off for their long-overdue spring breaks on England’s south coast or in Europe. Crueller still, volunteer van and truck drivers heading for the Poland/Ukraine border with urgent medical and vital supplies might have been caught out by this grubby rip-off prior to boarding ferries.  

If it had a heart and a bit of common sense, BP (or its retailers) would give its diesel away to charitable organisations bravely embarking on potentially life-saving missions to the Ukraine war zone, some 1,150 miles away. Instead, it’s seemingly happy to charge them and others over £2 a litre for the stuff. Sheer greed? Profiteering in a crisis? Corporate stupidity? The unacceptable face of capitalism? You tell me.

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But before you do, also consider this: BP sites, like most others, usually do a good job of erecting large signs that state the prices of their regular petrol and regular diesel (their cheapest products). Fair enough. But what’s not so fair is that it’s difficult to know the price of premium fuels until you’ve committed to entering that forecourt to read the price on the pumps. Last week, on the BP site in question, I discovered they were priced at up to 222.9 pence per litre. Put another way, I can exclusively reveal that the £10.13 gallon arrived in Britain in early March 2022. That’s one for the history books.

Almost unbelievable, right? But believe it you must. I’ve visited this BP forecourt, inches from an A-road, together with other BP sites selling fuel at £2-plus a litre/around £10 per gallon. And I have the photographic and other evidence to prove it.

For a BP retailer to cynically cash in and exploit motorists in this way (at a time when they should – and could afford to – go a little easier) is insanely short-sighted. I will be taking my business away from BP and diverting to Shell and Esso sites whose prices have tended to be lower than BP forecourts in recent days (at least across Surrey, Sussex, Kent and Hampshire, where I’ve been driving and researching).   

Perhaps better still, I’m considering avoiding all the ‘majors’ and rewarding generally cheaper supermarkets with my custom. Motorists have to make up their own minds. Those with more money than sense will pay circa £150 to fill a 15-gallon tank at a rip-off pump, but those with more sense than money will head for more pleasant and spacious supermarkets in the same area – and spend just over £100 for the same quantity of fuel.

It’s one thing for a greedy retailer to try imposing its £10 gallon on the beleaguered motorists of Britain at this time. But that doesn’t mean we can – or will – pay up. What we have here is an outlet in danger of pricing itself out of the retail market.

Will Russia’s isolation disrupt UK petrol supply? We answer the important questions here...

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Chief columnist

Mike was one of the founding fathers of Auto Express in 1988. He's been motoring editor on four tabloid newspapers - London Evening News, The Sun, News of the World & Daily Mirror. He was also a weekly columnist on the Daily Telegraph, The Independent and The Sunday Times. 

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