Energy Institute (EI)

Motorists remain cautious despite lower fuel prices


Source: Energy Institute (EI)

The latest Retail Marketing Survey, conducted by the Energy Institute (EI) and published as a supplement to the EI's April issue of Petroleum Review, shows that fuel prices fell from an average of 136.22 p/l for petrol in 2012 to 134.88 p/l in 2013, and from 142.39 p/l for diesel to 140.74 p/l.

Total fuel sales saw a marginal 0.6% increase from 35.21mn tonnes in 2012 to reach 35.42mn tonnes in 2013, with diesel sales once again out-performing petrol for the third year running. Meanwhile, the total number of cars on the road rose 1.4% to 35.21mn. Thus, it would seem that although more fuel was sold, this was driven more by rising vehicle sales than by lower fuel prices. Indeed, motorists seem to have remained cautious regarding pump prices, as pointed out in one of the featured articles in the supplement.

The number of forecourts in the UK has continued to fall, to stand at 8,611 sites by the end of 2013. This is compared to 1967’s all-time high of 39,958 forecourts.

The annual Retail Marketing Survey provides a comprehensive, statistical overview of the UK forecourt market. Data is broken down by company, region and forecourt facilities. This year’s survey is based on statistics relating to end-2013 and does not reflect changes since that date. The figures are cross-checked with numbers from market analyst Experian Catalist.

Key findings of the survey show:

  • There were 8,611 operational filling stations in the UK at end-December 2013.
  • Retail petrol sales fell to 12.57mn tonnes by the close of 2013 – down from 13.25mn at end-2012.
  • Retail diesel sales totalled 14.83mn tonnes by year-end – up from 13.96mn tonnes a year earlier.
  • Total 2013 road fuel sales rose slightly to 35.42mn tonnes – up from 35.21mn tonnes in 2012.
  • By the close of 2013, unleaded petrol prices had averaged 134.88 p/l (versus 136.22 p/l in 2012); while diesel prices closed the year at an average price of 140.74 p/l (versus 142.39 p/l).
  • Registered UK vehicles once again broke records, rising from 34.71mn in 2012, to reach 35.21mn by end-2013, with each forecourt supplying an average of 4,089 vehicles.
  • Site number breakdown by sector in 2013:
    • oil company sites increased by 58 to 4,777
    • main retailer sites decreased by 110 to 1,605
    • supermarket sites increased by 43 to 1,381
    • smaller retailer sites increased by 28 to 80
    • other unbranded sites decreased by 154 to 768
  • The four largest oil company operations by number of branded forecourts were (2012 figures in brackets):
    • BP – 1,174 (1,220) down 46
    • Shell – 1,016 (1,028) down 12
    • Esso – 1,003 (907) up 96
    • Texaco – 814 (787) up 27

This year’s supplement also includes articles reviewing proposed changes to petroleum legislation in the UK, and assessing the UK’s supply resilience against a backdrop of closing export markets and lower demand for petroleum, asking whether midstream suppliers can fill the gap.

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