A motorist holds a fuel pump at a Gulf petrol station in London in this April 18, 2006 file photo. Oil dropped nearly 2 percent on March 20, 2012 as Saudi Arabia sought to knock back crude's price rise that has threatened the global economy, with the oil minister offering the most detailed argument to date that the OPEC nation was prepared to meet any supply shortfall. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor/Files (BRITAIN - Tags: BUSINESS ENERGY COMMODITIES)

Johannesburg - South Africans should brace themselves for the biggest petrol price hike this year, following Friday’s Energy Department announcement that all grades of petrol will go up 93c/litre on Wednesday, along with 69c/litre for diesel.

The steep increases will see prices for 95 octane go to R11.97/litre in Gauteng and rise to R11.58/litre at the coast.

For diesel the increase takes the cost per litre to about R10.95 in Gauteng and R10.70 at the coast. The wholesale price of illuminating paraffin will rise by 73c/litre to R8.34, while the price of LP gas rises by R1.29/litre.

AA spokesman Gary Ronald said the price hike was one of the biggest in recent memory.

“The international price of diesel has been decreasing so we are surprised that the increase is so high. However, upon further investigation, we have found that international demand is the driving force behind it,” he explained.

The department said the increases were the result of an $11 (R92.60) a barrel increase for Brent crude oil over the past month, which had brought the barrel price up to $113.

The department added the increase in international demand was a result of refinery shutdowns in Europe due to maintenance programmes, and in the Gulf of Mexico due to the threat of Hurricane Isaac. Other factors included the strengthened rand/dollar exchange rate, a wage increase for petrol attendants, the stand-off between Iran and Israel which could lead to a civil war, and adjustments to the slate levy on petrol and diesel.

Ronald warned motorists to check that they were not paying the increased prices before the midnight deadline on Tuesday.

“Although this rarely happens, we appeal to motorists to ask for cash slips in order to check that the petrol pump price was not changed before the time,” he said.

Mango CEO Nico Bezuidenhout said the fuel hike, along with an unfavourable exchange rate, would probably see additional pressure on consumers and the transport industry.

“Airlines… are particularly impacted by high crude oil prices,” he said, committing the airline to keeping costs as low as possible. - Saturday Star