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The BBC's Greg Wood
"Some of the oil say they will wait until next week before deciding on pump prices"
 real 56k

Road Hauliers Association, Roger King
"British hauliers may follow suit"
 real 28k

Ray Holloway, Petrol Retailers Association
"The UK government has gone too far"
 real 56k

Thursday, 7 September, 2000, 15:57 GMT 16:57 UK
Petrol price rise anger
Petrol station
The prospect of petrol price rises has been greeted with dismay by UK motoring organisations.

In the country with the highest petrol prices in the developed world, a litre of fuel is expected to rise by 2p this week, with a further increase thought likely next week.

We have the highest prices in the developed world and this is going to give nobody any joy

AA spokesman
Michael Johnson
The increases are as a result of the escalating world price of crude oil.

Oil prices have hit their highest level for 10 years, having risen by 25% over the past 18 months.

Concern over fuel is not confined to the UK - in France, farmers are joining lorry drivers in an industrial dispute aimed at forcing prices down.

Bewilderment and anger

Michael Johnson of the AA said: "If the increase does take place, motorists will be bitterly disappointed.

"They will be extremely bewildered at best and very angry at worst. It always hits the person at the pump."

I think we will see... further price increases, regardless of the Opec decision on Sunday

Ray Holloway, Petrol Retailers Association
The AA has called on the Government to cut fuel taxes, saying unleaded petrol could soon average 87p a litre (4 a gallon).

The Freight Transport Association also urged a cut in taxes, saying smaller haulage firms were being forced out of business.

For the RAC, Edmund King said: "When the world price increases, the oil companies are very quick to pass on the price to the consumer.

"But when the oil price goes down, they are actually very slow to reduce prices."

Oil production

Opec, the organisation of petroleum exporting countries, is due to meet on Sunday to discuss whether to increase production to ease the pressure on prices.

Ray Holloway, from the Petrol Retailers Association, said: "I think we're going to see an upward movement in prices by around 2p a litre immediately - within perhaps one or two days.

"And then I think we will see that followed by further price increases, regardless of the Opec decision on Sunday."

Over the summer, a boycott of petrol forecourts - Dump the Pump - was organised by Essex website designer Gary Russell.

He urged the UK's 27 million car drivers to take part in the 24-hour campaign in protest over rising taxation on fuel.

But the Petrol Retailers Association said the boycott had had a "minimal effect".

'Unacceptable levels'

The European Commission has called for common action to bring prices down from "unacceptable levels".

High fuel costs have been pushing up inflation across Europe.

A week ago, French fishermen blocked ports to protest against the cost of diesel, prompting the government to promise financial help.

But French hauliers pay much less than their British counterparts. The price of diesel in France is 55.6p a litre, compared with 80.8p in the UK.

Similarly, French motorists pay 69.4p for a litre of unleaded petrol, whereas British drivers are charged on average 80p.

Opec officials seem likely to stand fast on current production levels.

Some of the major oil-producing countries reportedly fear that any further increase in production could backfire on the cartel and drive prices well below Opec's target level of $25 a barrel.

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