Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Oil tumbles, but when will petrol prices follow?

By Harry Wallop, Consumer Affairs Correspondent , 15/09/08, Telegraph.co.uk

The price of oil has fallen below $100 a barrel for the first time in nearly six months, as the likelihood of a severe global recession increased in the wake of the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

# Oil markets escape Hurricane Ike mayhem

The price fell more than $4 to $97 US dollars a barrel. The last time the price was below $100 was April 2.

Petrol forecourts in Britain are now under pressure to cut the price of unleaded petrol and diesel, motoring groups said. They warned that drivers had missed out on the full benefit of the oil price fall earlier this summer, when it came down from its peak of $147 a barrel.

The fall in the price of oil came as investors digested the collapse of Lehman Brothers. With investors betting that the chaos on Wall Street would cause the credit crisis to deepen – and economies around the world to use less oil – investors started to sell the commodity.

The sell-off was also prompted by reports that suggested the damage from Hurricane Ike was less than feared.

The storm destroyed at least 10 oil and gas platforms and damaged pipelines in the Gulf of Mexico – only a small amount of the 3,800 production platforms in the Gulf. Three years ago, a series of hurricanes knocked out more than 100 platforms.

The AA warned that petrol prices on UK forecourts have not fallen as quickly as oil, with average unleaded petrol down from July's peak of 119.7p to only 112.8p at the weekend.

Average diesel prices have fallen from 133.3p to 124.2p. This compares to the 34 per cent fall in the oil price.

The AA said that petrol prices needed to fall by another 4 pence in the coming days, or motorists would lose out once again.

Luke Bosdet, a spokesman for the motoring group, said: "I am not hopeful. Petrol retailers have a history of dragging their feet."

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