The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has today (5 September)  issued a call for information on the UK petrol and diesel sector, in order to identify whether there are competition problems it can investigate.

“We are keenly aware of continuing widespread concern about the pump price of petrol and diesel and we have heard a number of  different claims about how the market is operating,” said Claire Hart, director in the OFT’s Services, Infrastructure and Public Markets Group.

“We have therefore decided to take a broad based look at this sector, to provide an opportunity for people to share their concerns and evidence with us. This will help us determine whether claims about competition problems are well-founded and whether any further action is warranted.”

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) applauded the news.

“Diesel accounts for over a third of a hauliers operating costs,” said RHA chief executive Geoff Dunning. “Between June 2007 and June 2012, diesel prices have risen by 43%; a rise which will no doubt have a had a very significant depressing effect on the economy.”.

The OFT will be gathering information over the next six weeks. It is inviting the industry, motoring groups and consumer bodies to submit information, and plans to publish its findings in January 2013.

Robert Halfon MP, founder of campaign group PetrolPromise, has been calling for an OfT investigation into the fuel market. He has complied a dossier examining alleged malpractice, which he will present to members of the House of Commons in a likely half-day debate on 13 September.

“The government has frozen fuel duty for two years - and I want them to cut tax even further," he said.

"But we have to look at the oil market as well. Pump-prices keep going up and up, even though there is no oil-shortage. Why? There have been serious accusations of fraud and market-manipulation. We need a proper investigation, just as Germany and America are doing. Britain is being taken for a very expensive ride.”