Motorists may face a petrol price hike of more than 78c a litre next month, after a 22c a litre increase this month. Supply issues and improved consumer confidence in the US have driven up oil prices, pushing the benchmark Brent blend from $103 (R858) a barrel at the end of last month to $113.95 yesterday. The petrol price is adjusted each month based on movements in a basket of international oil products. An indication of the extent of the increase is that the average underrecovery on local fuel is running at just over 78c. The underrecovery on Friday was over R1. The underrecovery has been moving up so the average could rise if the supply issues are not resolved. Oil prices, which moderated last month on concerns about growth and weak demand for oil, have been supported over the past few weeks by expectations of shrinking North Sea production. Reuters said production would fall about 17 percent in September due to maintenance. To counter the impact, US President Barack Obama spoke of releasing emergency oil reserves. But Reuters said he “faces stiff resistance”. – Ethel Hazelhurst