The Automobile Association says “unexpectedly strong” international fuel prices have raised the chances of another fuel price hike for South Africa’s petrol users at the end of April.

Commenting on unaudited mid-month fuel price data released by the Central Energy Fund, the AA said the data suggested petrol could increase by 56 cents a litre at the end of April, while diesel was showing a reduction of five cents (illuminating paraffin showed a drop of one cent).

"The international product price of diesel climbed somewhat in the first half of April, while petrol has made a substantial jump," the AA said.

"Diesel's smaller increase is likely due to variations in international refining capacity, as well as the approaching end of the Northern Hemisphere winter when demand for diesel fuels for use in peaking power plants and as a heating fuel diminishes."

The Association said the rand had appreciated “quite strongly” against the US dollar since the end of March, with the daily exchange rate used for fuel price calculations rising from over R14,60 to the dollar on 31 March to under R14 in mid-April.

"The ground gained by the local currency has cushioned some of the blow, with diesel currently showing a slight decrease. But petrol users are in for a shock," the Association warned.

"Price stability in illuminating paraffin is welcome as South Africa heads into its own winter, during which many households will be using paraffin as a heating fuel. But the rise in petrol is cause for concern when our economy is already in difficult waters," the AA concluded.