File picture: Mohamed Abd El Ghany / Reuters.

Johannesburg - South Africa’s fuel price roller coaster is set to ascend in a more expensive direction in March, according to mid-month data released by the Central Energy Fund.

While it’s too early to predict next month’s fuel prices with a great deal of accuracy, it seems inevitable that motorists will be facing a much steeper increase than February’s 7 cent hike for petrol.

Current data, averaged out for the month so far, points to increases of 42 cents per litre for petrol and 59 cents per litre for diesel. However, the past three days have seen daily price deficits of over 50 cents a litre - in fact Thursday was 80 cents in the red.

If this trend continues, it could easily push the petrol price increase beyond 55 cents by the end of this month and the bad news is that the rand and international oil prices are continuing to work against us.

On Thursday the rand broke through the R14 to the dollar mark, depreciating from R13.30 at the beginning of the month, while the oil price has recently been hovering around $64 a barrel, up around $2 from earlier in February.

That said, oil is still significantly cheaper than it was last October, when it hit multi-year highs of $84 a barrel and South African petrol and diesel prices are still much lower than November 2018’s record highs.

A litre of 95 Unleaded currently sells for R14.08 inland and R13.49 at the coast, versus R17.08 and R16.49 three months back. If the price goes up by 55 cents a litre in March then you're in for R14.63 in Gauteng and R14.04 at the coast.

However, Eskom remains the huge elephant in the room rand-wise, and continued instability will inevitably have an effect on the local currency in the coming months, gradually pushing up fuel prices.

IOL Motoring