Brown fights hike in oil price

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Indy Politics

Gordon Brown was making personal appeals last night to Opec countries for an increase in oil production to stop petrol prices soaring above the level that provoked nationwide protests four years ago.

Gordon Brown was making personal appeals last night to Opec countries for an increase in oil production to stop petrol prices soaring above the level that provoked nationwide protests four years ago.

The Chancellor was said to be "hitting the phones" to persuade oil ministers to agree a production increase when Opec meets in Beirut tomorrow.

He joined the US to put pressure on Opec after oil prices in Britain closed 6.8 per cent up at £21 a barrel, equalling the 1990 peak. The rise in the cost of crude oil means motorists face petrol pump prices higher than the 85p-a-litre price recorded in June 2000, before fuel protests brought the country to a standstill.

The average pump price now stands at 82p a litre, but there was evidence yesterday that garages were introducing big rises. One garage in Chelsea, London was reportedly charging £1.12 for a litre of super unleaded, while the AA said it knew of another in Blackpool charging £1.09 for unleaded.

The Petrol Retailers Association urged the Government to scrap the 2p-a-litre rise in fuel duty planned for the autumn, but Downing Street insisted it would not intervene.

Mr Brown was said to be "leaving nothing to chance" in persuading oil ministers that higher prices did not help producing or consuming countries.

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