The price of fuel rose for a third consecutive month in August, but increases remain small, the RAC has said. According to the organisation’s Fuel Watch initiative, which tracks fuel prices up and down the country, the average litre of petrol rose by half a penny in August, while diesel prices rose even less dramatically.

According to the RAC’s calculations, the average litre of unleaded cost 114.88 pence at the end of August, while the average litre of diesel cost 118.47 pence. Despite rising slightly compared with the start of the month, it means the two fuels remain 13p per litre cheaper than they were at the start of January.

And the RAC says such incremental increases in price mean the cost of fuel isn’t expected to return to pre-pandemic levels quickly. That, the organisation claims, is good news for drivers planning a ‘staycation’ this autumn.

“Even though pump prices have risen for three consecutive months, August’s increase was slight, sparing drivers any nasty shocks when they went to fill up,” said RAC fuel spokesperson Simon Williams. “We had feared prices might rise more quickly as people started driving more after the lockdown but so far petrol has only gone up 9p a litre from its low of just under 106p in May which, it’s important to remember, is still 13p a litre less than it was in January.

“It was good news for drivers that August didn’t see the price of fuel jump, especially as so many people were ‘staycationing’. It was also positive that motorway fill-ups remained more reasonably priced than they have been in the past with service station retailers apparently not taking as much margin as they have in the past.

Drivers filling up at Shell petrol station in Portsmouth UK

And Williams also noted that prices “should” fall very slightly over the next couple of weeks, although the RAC has previously criticised fuel retailers for failing to pass reductions in wholesale costs (the price retailers pay for fuel) on to consumers.

“The short-term outlook for pump prices generally does not appear ominous for UK drivers, despite a blip in the oil price at the end of August,” he said. “The cost of a barrel of oil rose dramatically due to fears of a hurricane affecting supplies in the Gulf of Mexico, but fortunately there was no adverse impact to production as the hurricane was downgraded to a tropical depression and refineries were spared massive flooding.

“Our pump price forecast for the next fortnight shows petrol should come down by a penny while diesel ought to fall by around 5p a litre if retailers play fair and reflect the downward movement in the wholesale price properly.”

Man making fuel pump payment at petrol station