Fuel prices are set for another hike at the end of January, says the Automobile Association (AA), commenting on unaudited mid-month fuel price data released by the Central Energy Fund (CEF).

The AA is predicting that petrol is set to jump by 44 cents a litre, diesel by 37 cents, and illuminating paraffin by 31 cents.

This follows big hikes of between 48c (95 Octane) and 50c (93 Octane) per litre of petrol at the beginning of this month, with a 39c rise for diesel and 43c for illuminating paraffin. At the time local economists said fuel price increases weren't likely to persist throughout the year, but they didn't predict the subsequent surge in international oil prices.

Despite the Rand/US dollar exchange rate firming at around R13.60 since the start of January, the oil price has risen from $51.02 to $54.87 per barrel over the same period as major petroleum exporters struck deals to limit their output. This follows an agreement between Opec and non-Opec members to cut production by about 2 percent this year.

This means motorists will from February 1 fork out R13.29 for a litre of 95 Unleaded at the coast and R13.77 in Gauteng, with a litre of diesel costing R11.40 and R11.79 respectively.

"There is always the hope that the spike in international oil prices will not persist, but that seems unlikely," the AA said today.

"South Africans should already be thinking of trimming any unnecessary expenses to accommodate a series of fuel price hikes which seem likely in the medium term," the AA concluded.

- IOL Motoring