The Petrol Retailers’ Association has welcomed the move by the European Commission to investigate alleged oil price fixing by the major operators.

European Commission investigators raided the offices of several major oil companies yesterday, including BP and Shell, as an investigation into price manipulation began. The Commission said it suspected companies had "colluded in reporting distorted prices".

Brian Madderson, chairman of the PRA which submitted a complaint on oil price fixing to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) in January 2012, said: “The UK’s competition authority rejected industry calls from the PRA, supported by Robert Halfon MP and his cross-party group of backbenchers, to examine oil price and wholesale cost movements.

“Earlier this year the PRA drew attention to the 8ppl increase in wholesale cost of petrol from end December to late February which could not be explained by new geo-political issues or other economic factors.

“More recently, our independent petrol retailers have seen wholesale costs move by over 5.2ppl in less than seven days.

“Such volatility has been a relatively new and unwelcome market phenomenon which cannot be explained to confused and irate customers on our forecourts.

“Independent retailers hope this Europe-led investigation will help to provide the proper price transparency that consumers and businesses deserve and need.”