MOTORISTS are being hit by spiralling petrol prices as Hobart's average price hits 160c a litre.
Prices have jumped about 6c a litre since last Friday because of increases in world oil prices.
Users of 95 or 98 premium blends are being hit hardest, with the fuel selling from 170c to 180c a litre.
But diesel prices have remained steady, with prices cheaper than petrol for the first time in many years.
The RACT's Vince Taskunas said the surge in local petrol prices was predictable because of rises in Singapore's unleaded petrol wholesale price.
Mr Taskunas said the Singapore price had fallen below Friday's level and he hoped that would cause prices to remain about 160c a litre.
"We're hoping that that's the extent of it," he said.
Mr Taskunas said recent rises in global oil prices had been amplified by the sharp drop in the Australian dollar.
He said the increases were hurting motorists, especially those whose cars needed high-octane petrol. Mr Taskunas said motorists whose cars ran on diesel were being spared price rises.
"Diesel users are not being punished like they usually are," he said.
Mr Taskunas said there had also been a narrowing of the price gaps between Hobart and interstate capitals including Melbourne and Adelaide.
He said that some service station operators had noticed that motorists whose cars required high octane fuels were switching to standard unleaded fuel but returning to their outlets with engine problems.
At the start of this month, the price of oil was $US100 a barrel for the first time in a year, with concerns Egypt's political problems could lead to wider unrest in the Middle East's oil-producing countries.
And analysts are predicting the Australian dollar could fall further.
There are fears that higher petrol costs could trigger a further reining in of discretionary spending in areas such as shops and restaurants by people who are struggling to reduce their petrol consumption.
The national average price of unleaded fuel increased by 13c a litre in a fortnight.
Interstate motorists have also been warned to expect unleaded petrol prices to hit 160c a litre by the end of the month.
Well as expected it's not taken long for the price to go up. For the last few months the average price for ULP (91 octane) has been $1.53 – $1.55 a litre. So it's anyone's guess as to just how much further the prices will go.
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