Petrol to keep rising past £6 a gallon mark

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The sharp rise in petrol prices is set to continue after a leak in a major American pipeline pushed up the global price of oil.

The average UK price is now at 127.8 pence per litre, just short of the 132ppl that would equal £6 a gallon. According to fuel-price monitoring website petrolprices.com, there are already some forecourts charging in excess of 140p for a litre of normal unleaded, while diesel has already broken the £6 a gallon mark. According to experts, petrol could follow diesel's lead soon.

The leak on January 8 in the Trans-Alaska pipeline, which is reported to carry 15 percent of all of America's crude oil production, forced operators to shut down production. Workers are trying to fix the leak, which is thought not to be bad as first feared.

The shutdown initially forced prices up by $2 a barrel, to $89.98, before the initial panic subsided. The pipeline is expected to be back in action by Friday.

However, with speculators keen to force the price above $100 a barrel before the spring, it seems likely that the British motorist will be hit by £6 a gallon costs before long.

"Most people cannot afford these higher petrol prices, but unfortunately a combination of ever increasing tax on fuel and speculators gambling on the price of oil is leading prices inexorably higher," said Luke Bosdet of The AA.

The likelihood of record prices at the pump could see a return to the fuel protests that caused chaos in 2000. Hauliers would once again be at the forefront of such a campaign. Andrew Spence, one of the organisers of the lorry demonstration on the M40, told The Daily Telegraph: "The feed back I am getting is that it is not a matter of if protests will happen, but when."

He added: "With the VAT rise and increasing fuel duty, what is coming around the corner is inevitable and it will be sooner rather than later. People are already making concrete plans."