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Pump prices set for record high, says AA

By Claire McCNeilly

Fuel prices in Northern Ireland look set to reach record levels before the end of the month, a leading motoring organisation has warned.

The AA has told the Belfast Telegraph that it is "alarmed" at the high level of current wholesale prices against the backdrop of a weak global economy.

Petrol and diesel prices hit an all-time high in May this year, with unleaded costing 137.43p per litre and diesel averaging 143p.

Experts claim that part of the problem is a relentless rise in the cost of a barrel of oil, which has soared from $110 in late August to $116.4 today.

AA spokesman Luke Bosdet said he hoped the forthcoming spike in fuel prices would be short and sharp - not prolonged.

"We are very concerned by how much the wholesale price is stubbornly staying above $1,000 per metric ton," Mr Bosdet said.

"If you combine that with a weakened pound, then the outlook is very bleak indeed and we are looking at a return to the record price hikes we experienced four months ago."

A return to record fuel tariffs will put added pressure on drivers who are already struggling to make ends meet in the present economic climate.

In a report by Sainsbury's Finance it emerged that the cost of running a car is up by 21% since April 2010, resulting in over one million people in the UK being forced off the road.

Research has also suggested that the average Northern Ireland family has seen its annual income fall by around £600 a year.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said the recent decline in oil and other commodity prices has been less than expected on the basis of historical relationships with global demand.

Pump prices have been forced up by unrest in the Middle East, fuel duty increases and a VAT hike to 20%.

The AA August Fuel Report revealed that Northern Ireland has the most expensive petrol and diesel than anywhere else in the UK - for the fifth time this year.

Unleaded costs, on average, 136.7p per litre compared to a UK figure of 135.7p, while diesel is 140.8p compared to 139.9p.

Factfile

Northern Ireland fuel prices 2011 in UK context:

January: most expensive petrol and diesel.

Feburary: most expensive petrol and diesel.

March: most expensive petrol and diesel.

April: most expensive petrol.

May: most expensive petrol and diesel.

June: most expensive petrol.

July: most expensive petrol.

August: most expensive petrol and diesel.

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