By Erin Tennant, ninemsn
Petrol prices will probably hit $1.90 a litre in Australia's capital cities over the next eight weeks as American families pile into their gas-guzzling cars over the pending holiday season and squeeze already soaring prices, a leading analyst predicts.
ANZ Head of Commodities Research Mark Pervan told ninemsn that crude oil prices could jump up to US $150 a barrel during the US summer holiday season.
The forecast comes as prime minister Kevin Rudd today said there is no silver bullet to bring down the price of petrol and that the government has done all it can to help the family budget.
Petrol prices in Australia already have soared above $1.60 a litre in some cities as oil prices continue to surge on world markets.
"The oil market is very seasonal," Mr Pervan said. "We're about to enter a strong stage in oil demand with the US driving season."
That season begins this Saturday with the Memorial Day long weekend and continues through to Labor Day on September 1.
"The market will watch the Memorial Day weekend very closely," Mr Pervan said. "We tend to see a sharp spike in demand for gasoline in the US, which pushes up US crude oil prices, which in turn affects the price of Tapis crude oil and the Singapore price [of unleaded petrol], which is the benchmark for us here in Australia."
The turnaround time for a jump in US crude prices to be reflected at petrol bowsers in Australia could be as little as one week, Mr Pervan said.
"On current trends we could see crude prices reach US$150 a barrel within eight or nine weeks from now," he said.
Mr Pervan said there was little respite in sight for motorists as demand for oil among emerging economies in China and India only continues to rise.
But he said that a strong Australian dollar was helping ease pressure on bowser prices here, even as oil prices jumped $5 to a record near US$134 a barrel overnight.
In Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Tasmania the highest price yesterday was above $1.62 per litre.
Prices are lower in Queensland than in other states due to the state government's 8.3 cents a litre fuel subsidy.
However, motorists in the state's south-east are paying the highest prices for fuel ever seen in the region.
Some service stations broke the $1.50 mark overnight, while most service stations across Brisbane are selling unleaded for 149.9 cents a litre.
Mr Rudd says steps like the move to a national monitoring scheme have been put in place to reduce prices at the pump.
And he says the budget has provided tax cuts and other measures to help working families with day-to-day costs.