The PRA has warned independent forecourt operators that a fall in the strength of sterling could potentially see petrol back to 130ppl in the spring.

PRA chairman Brian Madderson commented: “Just a modest fall back in sterling’s rare strength against the US dollar with crude oil prices forging further ahead, could easily see petrol back to 130ppl.

“The near 30% surge in the Brent Crude price to last week’s $70 per barrel has been diffused by the steady rise by 14% of sterling versus the US dollar over the last 12 months. Average pump prices have only risen by a couple of pence per litre to 122ppl for petrol whereas it would have risen by as much as 5ppl but for sterling’s strength.

“Some City analysts are now commenting that sterling’s position is overblown and is likely to start easing with some predicting a fall back to $1.25 as this time last year.

“Conversely, oil specialists are more bullish about crude prices with stockpiles reduced, a longer accord in place between Russia and OPEC, frackers in the US struggling to ramp up output and global demand increasing. Highs of $85 per barrel for Brent Crude might be reached.

“This perfectly realistic scenario would produce a nightmare for UK motorists and the economy with petrol and diesel soaring by 8ppl to over 130ppl by the summer – levels last seen in mid-2014.

“The only short-term beneficiary would be the Treasury’s tax revenues increased by the extra VAT.”