Petrol prices rocket while sales plunge as speculators put the squeeze on motorists

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PETROL prices have jumped by nearly 6p since last month because of oil market speculation, the Automobile Association reported today.

The increase has brought average prices across Scotland to 137.8p a litre, while diesel has reached 145.1p.

The petrol price is slightly below the UK average of 138.3p, while UK diesel is the same as in Scotland. Petrol is now only 5p a litre below the UK record of 142.48p set in April last year, while diesel is within 3p of its high of 147.93p.

The AA said drivers had been caught between the pincers of a pound weakened against the dollar – in which oil is traded – and soaring wholesale prices, both due to stock market speculation.

AA president Edmund King said: “This latest surge in fuel prices and its impact on spending indicates that UK drivers and families can’t take any more. We’re no longer talking of the motorist as a cash cow for tax and speculator greed, but a horse slowly but surely being flogged to death.

“This is the third 10p-a-litre wholesale price surge in 11 months, given extra vigour by currency speculators betting against the pound.”

The AA also reported that official figures showed UK petrol sales last month fell to the lowest tracked by the UK government in 23 years. Drivers used 1.465 billion litres in January, down 14 million on the previous all-time low, in March last year, and nearly 100 million below December’s consumption of 1.564 billion.

Mr King said: “The blame for this latest collapse in petrol sales rests squarely with stock market speculation.”

Neil Greig, the Scotland-based policy director of the Institute of Advanced Drivers, said: “Bad news for drivers again, but this whole story raises the question of why successive governments continue to fail to grasp the nettle of speculation controlling the price of such an important commodity.

“Increased fuel prices drive up inflation, dampen economic activity and affect the lives of everyone in Scotland.

“Drivers and companies need transparency and predictability so they can make the best decisions about how to get around in the future.”