Consumer groups in Europe call for probe into petrol price rise

With petrol prices hitting the roof, The Federation Nationale d'Automobile (FIA), representing 35 million drivers, has called for an inquiry into how benchmark prices are set at Europe's key trading centre, the Rotterdam spot market.

In the UK petrol was 137.43p (approximately Rs102.28) per litre last month, with wholesale oil prices climbing surging past $125 (around Rs5646.25) per barrel, though petrol prices did not fall as quickly as the crude price fell.

In the letter the FIA calls on Joaquin Almunia, the EU competition commissioner, to look into "transparency in crude oil and oil product prices" and "investigate the influence and proper functioning of price-fixing mechanisms as at the Rotterdam spot market for finished products".

Further, the British Petrol Retailers' Association, which represents 6,000 UK forecourts, has written to Charles Hendry, UK energy minister expressing concern over the pricing of petrol.

The association will also refer its concerns to the Office of Fair Trading, and ask it to look into the "grave issue" of transparent pricing and its impact on the retail market.

Werner Kraus, chairman of the FIA Eurocouncil, says in his letter to the competition commissioner, "The fact that pump prices essentially depend on guideline prices of the Rotterdam spot market for finished products is a cause of particular astonishment.