Mid-month data suggest petrol is set to increase by a whopping 87 cents per litre as fuel is “hammered from all sides”, the Automobile Association (AA) said on Wednesday.

The AA, which does not itself regulate or adjust fuel prices in SA, publishes two fuel outlooks per month, based on data issued by the Central Energy Fund.

In a statement on Wednesday, it said in addition to the forecast rise for petrol, diesel was expected to rise by 58 cents per litre, and illuminating paraffin by 56 cents.

“Fuel prices were already trending higher before the widespread looting and unrest of the past few day. But now, the daily rand-US dollar exchange rate has spiked from R14.35 to nearly R14.80 since 12 June. South Africa imports a lot of fuel, which will inevitably cost more in rand terms. Meanwhile, international oil prices remain on the advance, adding further pressure,” the AA said.

It called on motorists to limit all nonessential travel as road transport comes under pressure from unrest and the possibility of fuel shortages.

The SA Petroleum Industry Association (SAPIA) on Wednesday also cautioned against panic buying of fuel, saying the availability of petroleum products was currently stable.

SAPIA, which represents the interests of the petroleum industry, issued a statement on the impact of unrest on operations for the businesses it represents. Its members include PetroSA, Engen Petroleum, Sasol Oil and BP Southern Africa, LPG wholesalers Easigas and Totalgaz, as well as fuel wholesalers Afric Oil and Puma Energy.

SAPIA raised concerns of the looting of fuel from retail service station sites, as well as the filling of plastic containers with fuel. These activities pose a serious safety risk, said Tshifularo.

“As this is a fluid situation, assessments and decisions are being made on an hourly basis. SAPIA is actively engaging with the DMRE to ensure that adequate supply to the market is maintained,” it said.

On Tuesday Shell and BP South African Petroleum Refineries (Sapref) said that it would implement a force majeure due to the unrest. Sapref is responsible for 35% of South Africa’s refinery capacity.