The shock rise in wholesale costs is just one of the reasons why the Petrol Retailers’ Assocation (PRA) has been knocking on the door of the Office for Fair Trading (OFT), since this time last year, to demand a full investigation into the workings of the UK market for road fuel, according to Brian Madderson, PRA chairman.

Despite recent arctic weather cutting fuel demand across northern Europe and refinery chiefs complaining at their glut of petrol capacity, wholesale costs have risen by a shock 5.00ppl in just over four weeks since Christmas.

Madderson continued: “Independent retailers have been soaking up this increase at the expense of already tight margins because they know how hard the motorist is squeezed. But the floodgates will have to open soon.”

Experian Catalist figures show that daily average selling prices in the UK have risen by less than 1.00ppl for both petrol and diesel since January 1. Current prices at 22/1/13 were 132.83ppl for petrol and 140.40ppl for diesel, whereas the wholesale cost changes could see prices at the pump up another 4.00ppl in coming days.

"This shock rise confirms the wisdom of the Chancellor listening to lobbying forces last year when he announced in his Autumn Statement that the 3.02ppl fuel duty rise due 1/1/13 would be cancelled," said Madderson. "With VAT at 20%, this would have pushed prices up by an immediate 4.00ppl. Many organisations including PRA believe he should have gome further and cancelled the rise now deferred to 1/9/13.

“PRA’s formal complaint to the OFT in February 2012 has been supported by a growing posse of cross-party MP’s led by the ‘Hero of Harlow’, Robert Halfon, and road haulage interests plus motoring organisations. We now need the new chief executive at the OFT, Clive Maxwell, to step out from the shadows and help consumers by conducting a full Market Study that will lift the veil of secrecy from the wholesale cost movements.

“If fuel costs continue to rise as our sluggish economy and loss of AAA credit rating weaken the pound sterling against the US Dollar, the Chancellor must abandon plans to increase duty from 1/9/13 when he presents his Spring Budget – householders and businesses will be hard pressed to cope with market fluctuations let alone more Government tax intervention.”

Meanwhile AA president Edmund King, said: "

“Another new year, another new round of pump price rises after the industry failed to pass on fully wholesale price savings. The Office of Fair Trading decides soon whether to launch an investigation into fuel prices, hopefully tackling the fuel industry’s treatment of drivers, consumers and businesses,” says Edmund King, the AA’s president.

“The insight we are now getting on wholesale price movements rams home the need for this information to be out in the public domain immediately. Wholesale petrol prices turned upward in the first week of January, average pump prices six days later. If falls in wholesale were reflected as quickly, no-one would mind – but they’re not."