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Fuel crisis eases as pricefall predicted; PROTESTS: Extra oil stocks expected to get through to end fears of shortages.

Byline: By James McCarthy

MOTORISTS today looked set for some relief at the forecourts with forecasts the cost of a litre of petrol could fall by as much as 4p next week.

Experts said petrol prices were likely to fall from their current average of 96p a litre as refineries start pumping extra oil stocks following the intervention of the International Energy Agency.

Chris Hunt, director general of the UK Petroleum Industry Association, said prices could ease by 3p or 4p as this starts to enter the system.

He said: "Prices should be back down to pre-Katrina levels as that filters through over the next week or so."

The cost of a barrel of oil in New York now stands below 64 US dollars, off the record high of more than 70 US dollars seen in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

A spokesman for the AA Motoring Trust said the group was "cautiously" expecting a fall in petrol prices but added: "These things take time to work through."

In addition to the impact of Hurricane Katrina, he said a lot of people were unlikely to need petrol for a few days since they filled up their tanks in the past couple of days. This in turn should ease demand and bring down prices.

Motorists rushed to garages to fill up their vehicles amid fears fuel protests could disrupt supplies. However, the protest failed to materialise with just a handful of demonstrators taking part.

"It's going to take a lot of pressure off a lot of people, not just motorists but also the oil companies," he said.

Driver Linda baffled by speedy diesel hike

COVENTRY motorist Linda Jarvis will be delighted if prices at the pumps do drop next week after facing a price hike between fill-ups within 90 minutes.

She filled her car with diesel then returned to fill another - only to find the price had gone up 1.6p a litre while she was gone.

Mrs Jarvis, aged 53, of Peregrine Drive, Allesley Green, visited the Esso garage on Fletchamstead Highway, Canley Ford, at 1.50pm on Monday, to fill up her Volkswagen Golf. Her receipt shows the price of diesel to be 94.9p a litre.

But when she returned to fill up her Honda CR-V, she found the cost had shot up to 96.5p.

The former secretary said: "I noticed people were queuing up and that there were not many pumps with diesel. That was at about 1.50pm. I got back home and I said 'if they are going to queue perhaps we should make sure we have got enough and fill the other car,' because we've got two diesels.

"So I went in there and put a little bit in and I noticed that it had gone up to 96.5p.

"I thought 'that's a bit odd' and went in and said to the guy 'how come it was 94.9p earlier?'

"I said 'I don't think that's on.' He said it was down to head office and that they took instructions from there."

An Esso spokesman said: "We conduct observations to see how our competitors are pricing, to make sure our prices are competitive. What we decided (on Monday) was that at that site we should increase the prices from 94.9p to 96.5p, which is still a competitive price. Regrettably from the customer's perspective it changed during the hour-and-a-half when she went there."

Up and down at the pumps

AT the Texaco garage in Sandpits Lane, Keresley, prices suddenly shot up then came down just as quickly. Ernie Sears, 59, of Shaftesbury Avenue, Keresley, spotted the price rise of a whopping pounds 1.09 for diesel and unleaded fuel. The retired miner and dad-of-three said: "I just went away and went to another garage in Fillongley." The business was encouraged to lower its prices after the Evening Telegraph contacted Texaco. A spokesman said: "We have got 32 Texaco branded service stations in and around the West Midlands, most of which are independently owned. "This means we sell fuel to them at a price based on an international market price and then they are free to decide how much they want to charge. "But we have spoken to the owner of this site and he has confirmed the price of unleaded fuel will be changed and it will be 95.9pence for unleaded and 95.9pence for diesel.It has always been Texaco's aim to be competitive with our fuel prices and the price of a litre of unleaded fuel is currently between 95.9pence and 99.9pence a litre."

CAPTION(S):

PRICE PUZZLE... Linda Jarvis with the two receipts timed within 90 minutes, highlighted right, Picture: Richard Nelmes
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Sep 15, 2005
Words:787
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