OFT rules out UK fuel sector investigation

Posted on 30th January 2013 By Charlotte Haye

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) believes competition is working well in the UK road fuel sector.

Following a six month information gathering exercise into the £47bn sector, the OFT has decided not to launch a full blown investigation.

Clive Maxwell, OFT chief executive, said: “We recognise that there has been widespread mistrust in how this market is operating. However, our analysis suggests that competition is working well, and rises in pump prices over the past decade or so have largely been down to increases in tax and the cost of crude oil.

“Our call for information has not identified any evidence of anti-competitive behaviour in the fuel market at a national level, where competition appears to be strong,” he added.

Robert Halfon MP, founder of campaign group PetrolPromise, said in response to the announcement today that “I am grateful to the OFT for their work. But it is disappointing that they will not hold a full inquiry”.

“For example, they admit that there is a problem with poor competition in many towns, such as Harlow – which keeps prices high at the pump – but they are not taking action,” Halfon said.

Quentin Willson of FairFuelUK said: “UK consumers will be bitterly disappointed. The nation will feel let down. Quite frankly, I’m shocked.

“The Americans and the Germans are holding inquiries – why aren’t we? The OFT appears to have failed to address the key issues of: why diesel is more expensive than unleaded in the UK when this is not the case in Europe, why falls in the oil price take so long to be reflected at the pump and why there are such variations in price.”

Both the Road Haulage Association and the Retail Motor Industry Federation had backed calls for an investigation.

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