PETROL prices could rise by a further 5p a litre after increasing by a penny in the past month, motorists were warned today.
The Automobile Association blamed a 10 per cent increase in crude oil prices since late June, a surge in wholesale prices and a weaker pound against the oil-trading dollar for the potential rise.
The motoring group’s latest monthly fuel price survey showed petrol increased from a UK average of 134.61p in mid-June to 135.78p this week.
Scotland’s average was higher at 136p, up from 134.9p, and among the most expensive areas.
Average UK diesel prices increased from 139.16p a month ago to 140.24p now. However, Scotland has the most expensive diesel along with East Anglia, at 140.8p, up by 1.2p.
AA president Edmund King said: “A $100-a-tonne increase in the cost of petrol across north-west Europe, combined with a weaker pound, heralds a potential 5p increase in pump-petrol costs.
“After the price of petrol stabilised at around 134.6p a litre through much of this June, and weeks were filled with beautiful weather and sporting excellence, it was perhaps inevitable that oil and fuel market speculators would cast a black cloud over what was promising to be a glorious summer.”
Fellow motoring group, the RAC, said women with children would be hardest hit by any rises.
It said research for its Report on Motoring 2013 showed nearly two-thirds of mothers felt their lifestyle had suffered because of the high cost of fuel – 10 percentage points above fathers and 12 percentage points above the national average.
Fuel-price campaigners accused oil traders of gambling with people’s futures.
FairFuelUK spokesman Quentin Willson said: “The most chilling observation in these reports is the view that speculators are ‘betting’ on rising fuel prices.
“The government needs to take bold action on two fronts. First, they need to cut the eye-watering level of fuel tax that we pay – fuel duty and VAT amount to nearly 80p a litre.
“Second, they need to pressure the Office of Fair Trading and the Bank of England to follow the lead of the EU and US regulators to make sure the ‘casino’ traders are not deliberately manipulating the market.”
SNP Westminster transport spokesman Angus MacNeil said: “This is going to be a real hit for businesses in rural and remote communities, and tourists planning to have a driving holiday in Scotland.
“That’s just what we don’t need in the summer months.”