UK petrol and diesel prices are expected to rise soon despite reaching their lowest level in four years last month. Data from the RAC Fuel Watch initiative, which tracks prices across the UK, showed that the average litre of petrol cost 106.83 pence at the end of May, while diesel came to 111.87 pence.

Those figures were down from 108.95p and 114.54p per litre respectively at the beginning of the month. However, the drop was more significant during the first three weeks of the month, after which petrol fell below 106p per litre.

The RAC says the small uptick in prices over the past couple of weeks may be indicative of price increases to come. A rebound in the oil price over the month of May caused the wholesale price of petrol – the price retailers pay for the fuel – rising 7p last month.

With that in mind, the RAC has warned that if retailers continue the pricing strategies seen before the coronavirus lockdown, costs could rise further still. In fact, the organisation has suggested drivers fill up now before prices increase too dramatically.

Shell petrol station on Arborfield Road in Reading UK

“There’s no doubting that, as the lockdown is eased slightly in different parts of the UK and drivers begin to travel more often, it’s currently cheaper to fill up now than it has been since 2016,” said RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams. “How long these lower pump prices remain for however is debatable and is largely dependent on events taking place thousands of miles away from the UK.

“The impact of the coronavirus on world travel and economic activity has dramatically reduced the global demand for oil, which is forcing major oil producing nations such as Saudi Arabia and Russia to desperately agree production cuts to shore up the barrel price. How far they go with these cuts, and how quickly, will be crucial in determining what happens with prices at the pumps over the next few months. Last month, as we expected, the oil price began to creep back up. If this continues in June, a rise in the cost of filling up is almost inevitable.

Man filling petrol fuel in car holding pump nozzle

“Of course drivers still need to be careful about the trips they’re making – while the lockdown has eased a little more in England than in other parts, trips from here to Wales and Scotland shouldn’t be contemplated yet, and with so many basic amenities like public toilets and other facilities still closed the appeal of packing the car up for a daytrip is still unlikely to be very strong.

“For now though, drivers should fill up when they can to benefit from what are the lowest prices for four years. While the impact of the coronavirus is set to be with us for a long while yet, we don’t expect such low pump prices to be.”

Drivers filling up at Shell petrol station in Portsmouth UK