MOTORISTS in Huddersfield have been warned to prepare for another rise in petrol prices.
A senior industry figure in the town said crude oil prices were now nudging $100 a barrel on the international market, putting pressure on retailers to increase prices at the pumps following a slight fall during January.
Chris Stern, of Paddock-based fuel distributor CJ Stern (Oils), said: “Crude oil prices have jumped very sharply every day this week and are back to nearly $100 a barrel. I am afraid the next move will be upwards.”
Mr Stern said supermarkets were offering the lowest prices locally, at 99.9p a litre for petrol and 106.9p a litre for diesel. Typical prices on other forecourts across the town are 100.9p a litre for petrol and 107.8p a litre for diesel.
But he added: “During next week supermarkets will be waving goodbye to 99.9p.”
Mr Stern said factors such as Venezuela restricting supplies to the USA and a strong demand for heating oil were contributing to the price increases.
It was also feared that the Government would press ahead with a previously announced 2p-plus rise in fuel duty on April 1. The measure is expected to be confirmed when Chancellor Alistair Darling delivers his budget on March 12.
A survey by the AA motoring organisation said a 10% fall in crude oil prices during January had barely made an impact on the cost of petrol and diesel for UK drivers.
And it added: “With the price of oil once more heading upwards prospects for drivers, businesses and the economy again look gloomy.”
The average price of UK petrol between mid-January and mid-February fell only marginally, from 104.2p a litre to 104p, the AA said.
The price of diesel had stalled at 109.3p a litre from 109.2p in mid-January.
At the same time last year the average price of petrol was 86.78p a litre, with diesel at 90.65p. The AA said the difference in price meant a typical 50-litre fuel tank cost £8.62 more to fill up now that a year ago. The average motorist was spending an extra £18.48 a month of fuel.
The average price in West Yorkshire is now 103.4p for petrol and 108.78p for diesel.
AA president Edmund King said: “In three weeks the Chancellor will announce in the Budget whether or not he has heeded pleas for a fuel duty freeze or ignored the threat to family budgets, business health and inflation.
“If the average cost of UK petrol continues to rise – as prices in recent days seem to indicate – the Chancellor will surely find it impossible to add 2.35p in duty and VAT at the start of April.
“The price of petrol peaked at 104.4p a litre on January 23 and the Chancellor now runs the risk of setting a new UK record for the price of petrol and diesel.
“This rise would simply backfire to fuel inflation.”