The price of fuel will increase by up to 23 cents a litre on Wednesday, but economists have said that prices may not break through the expected R5 a litre barrier by the end of the year after all.

The price of fuel will increase by up to 23 cents a litre on Wednesday, but economists have said that prices may not break through the expected R5 a litre barrier by the end of the year after all.

All grades of petrol will increase by 17 cents a litre with effect from midnight November 3. The price of diesel with a sulphur content of 0,3 per cent will increase by 23 cents a litre, while diesel with a 0,05 per cent sulphur content will cost 22 cents more.

The Department of Mineral and Energy Affairs noted that during the review period the average prices of international crude oil and petroleum products had increased. The average rand/US dollar exchange rate had also strengthened when compared with the previous review period.

Economist Mike Schussler said the fuel price increases were still below what the market had expected. The strong rand over the review period had protected South African motorists from the devastating effects of high Brent crude oil prices.

"Had our rand/dollar exchange rate been around R7 then we would have already been paying R7 a litre for our fuel," Schussler said.

Instead, he said, the local fuel prices were not expected to break through the R5 a litre mark this year.