Return of rip-off Britain - petrol hits 120p a litre

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No matter how many times it happens, it seems we Brits are still amazed by the next financial rip-off we are subjected to. The latest mugging comes courtesy of oil companies (surprise, surprise) as, according to the AA, petrol increases mean we will soon be paying 120p per litre. Add to this the expected rise in duty from Chancellor Alistair Darling and suddenly the pumps are looking excessively pricey.

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But, as the prices on the forecourt are set to top the high of 119.7p of July 2008, the price of crude oil is dropping. In 2008, petrol companies could expect to pay a record $147 a barrel. Now, though, that price has dropped to $78.

Lindsay Hoyle, senior Labour MP on the Business Select Committee, told The Telegraph: "This is a complete disgrace. Yes, crude oil has going up this year, but nothing like the rise in petrol prices. Motorists are being legally mugged at the forecourt by petrol companies."

Admittedly the price of wholesale gasoline has risen by 17 per cent since the end of January and the weak pound and short supply all play their part in this increase. But the RAC, who estimate that the cost of filling the average car is now £364 per year, urged Mr Darling to reconsider the duty increase due on April 1.

Chris Hunt, from the UK Petrol Industry Association, claims that the weak pound is the main reason for price increases. But then, BP (whose profits fell by 45 per cent last year) still managed a cosy pre-tax profit of £8.75 billion.

The question is, just how far do the profiteering oil companies need to push us Brits before we are willing to make a stand?