Petrol and diesel prices could rise by as much as 3ppl in the run-up to Christmas, according to the RAC, as a result of a main oil and gas pipeline in the North Sea being shut for emergency repairs.

The shutdown of the Forties pipeline, which is responsible for carrying 40% of the North Sea oil and gas production, had an immediate effect on the price of oil.

RAC Fuel Watch data showed the price of Brent crude rose to $65.20 on Monday December 11 – the highest price it has reached since May 2015.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “This closure will inevitably lead to an unwelcome increase in the price with the knock-on effect of raising the wholesale cost of both fuels.

“This really isn’t what drivers need at Christmas when many are travelling longer distances to spend time with family and friends. This will only serve to make the most expensive time of year even more costly.

“It is also a stark contrast to two years ago when the price of both petrol and diesel fell drastically as the price of oil crashed to below $40 a barrel in December giving rise to both fuels being sold for 99ppl at the cheapest retailers.”

The average price of unleaded currently stands at 120.71ppl, which is over 6ppl more expensive than it was in July when it reached its 2017 low point of 114.33ppl. Diesel is now at an average UK price of 123.21ppl – more than 8ppl above its cheapest price this year of 115.02plp, also seen in July.