Cost of Living: This chart shows that life is becoming more expensive

oil prices

This chart shows how much oil prices have soared in recent weeks (Image:

The oil price has hit a 14-year high – a jump that should make everyday life even more expensive than it already is.

Brent crude — the most widely used way of measuring Britain’s oil price — briefly touched $139 today, its highest price since 2008.

It later dropped back down to around $10 from its peak but still remains at a 14-year high.

Oil prices have skyrocketed in recent weeks on concerns over security of supply amid war in Ukraine.

The recent surge is likely to put further strain on household budgets and has already resulted in drivers being pinched by record-high fuel prices.

Average petrol prices topped 155 pence a liter for the first time yesterday, with diesel slightly ahead at 161 pence a liter.

The price hikes are a further step up from new record highs earlier this month in what was then described as “another unfortunate milestone” in “relentlessly rising fuel prices”.

The latest price increase means that the cost of filling up a typical 55 liter family car with both fuels has risen by at least £17 over the last 12 months.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Maureen McLean/REX/Shutterstock (12835447b) Drivers were paying 160.9 per liter for petrol and 167.9 per liter for diesel at a BP service station in Slough today. Gasoline and diesel prices continue to rise at an alarming rate and are expected to get much worse following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Oil prices per barrel are expected to reach $130 per barrel by June 2022. Petrol price increases, Slough, Berkshire, UK - 04 March 2022

Gasoline and diesel continue to rise at an alarming rate (Image: Maureen McLean/REX/Shutterstock)

With prices soaring, the government has been urged to lower VAT on petrol and diesel, which currently stands at 20%.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “The average price of petrol across the UK has risen by more than 4p in a week and has surpassed £1.55 for the first time, meaning a gallon costs over £7 – something many do older drivers will have trouble understanding.

“But diesel is up 6.5 pa liter to £1.61 or £7.30 a gallon.

“These hikes are unprecedented and will unfortunately hit both homes and businesses hard.

“It is therefore vital that the Chancellor acts quickly to limit the damage by reducing VAT to at least 15%, saving drivers 6.5 per liter and the average price of unleaded lead to under 1.50 would press £.

“Importantly, this could also limit the impact of inevitable fuel price hikes in the days and weeks ahead.”

AA spokesman Luke Bosdet said: “A year ago, when pump prices were rising steadily after the pandemic hit, 125p a liter was bad news, but 155p was unimaginable.”

He described the average petrol price, which rose above £7 a gallon, as a “tipping point”, meaning “it’s time to abandon petrol and diesel and move to electric” for drivers who can make the transition.

Soaring oil prices come as the US and Europe discussed a ban on imports of Russian crude.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said over the weekend that Washington is in “very active talks” with countries in Europe over a ban on Russian oil imports.

The move could seriously harm Russia’s economy and is a direct consequence of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine.

Pedestrians walk past a destroyed car after a shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city, March 7, 2022. - On the 12th day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, March 7, 2022, Russian forces besieged the key southern port of Mariupol and attempted to increase pressure on the capital, Kyiv. Kyiv, like Kharkiv to the east, remains under Ukrainian control, with the Russian ground advance showing little change over the past 24 hours amid fierce Ukrainian resistance. (Photo by Sergey BOBOK/AFP) (Photo by SERGEY BOBOK/AFP via Getty Images)

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has resulted in heavy sanctions against the country (Image: Getty Images/AFP)

The war has resulted in hundreds of civilian casualties and has been widely condemned by world leaders, particularly in Europe.

So far, both Europe and the US have resisted banning Russian oil, but the heavy sanctions they have imposed on the country make many companies reluctant to buy anything from Russia.

This has led to a widespread boycott – but a total ban would further dry up supplies.

Although Europe is much more dependent on Russia for its natural gas than on oil, the country is still the single largest exporter of oil to the EU.

About a quarter of the bloc’s oil imports and about 46% of its gas came from Russia in the first half of last year, according to Eurostat.

The UK is less dependent on Russia for both, but prices here largely reflect those in Europe.

Sanctions have so far failed to hit these vital supplies that prop up the economies of both sides.

Natural gas is much less likely to be sanctioned as it would seriously harm Europe if it shut down Russian gas imports.

Russia now relies on these exports to fund large parts of its economy.

Still, the continent’s leaders are seriously considering the prospect of the taps being cut off by either the Europeans or the Russians.

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Justin Scacco

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