Gauteng motorists could face a petrol price increase of 61c a litre or more from April. Image: Boxer Ngwenya

Johannesburg - The downward trend in the fuel price over the past seven months has reversed sharply in February.

The Automobile Association's analysis of unaudited mid-month fuel price data issued by the Central Energy Fund shows that international fuel prices have risen by more than 20 percent since the last week of January, while a spike in the rand/dollar exchange rate put extra pressure on domestic fuel prices.

The price of crude oil fell from $100 (R1168) a barrel in July 2014 to $53 (R619) by the end of the year; despite a decline in the value of the rand against the dollar, the price of 95-octane petrol in Gauteng tumbled from a peak of R14.33 in August to the current R10.31, the lowest price since September 2011 - a drop of close to 40 percent.

ROCK BOTTOM?

However, the AA has warned that unless the price of crude drops back substantially and the value of the rand recovers as well, South African motorists will be looking at a March price increase for petrol of about 68 cents a litre, with diesel and illuminating paraffin up by approximately 45 and 48 cents a litre respectively.

An AA spokesman said: "It's too early to tell whether the sudden ride in fuel prices is merely due to a volatile market, or a sign that we have hit the bottom of the cycle.

"So be careful before you commit the money you've been saving over the past few months to other expenses - you could be paying R11 a litre for petrol in two weeks time."