Diesel prices could nearly double from record levels if production in Russia is shut down and oil prices rise, MPs have been told.
Experts said that the price of diesel could possibly hit as high as £3 per litre, up from current record highs of £1.73.
Although she cautioned against doomsaying, Dr Amrita Sen, warned that it was a distinct possibility, and households cutting back on use would not help prices to reduce much.
“It’s industrial usage that can keep diesel high, £2.50 – even closer to £3, just depending on how high oil prices get, that’s definitely in the realms of possibility,” Dr Sen, director of research at Energy Aspects, told MPs on the Treasury Select Committee.
The UK gets little oil from Russia – around 8% of its total – but around 18% of the diesel used here comes from Russia.
Nathan Piper, the head of oil and gas research at bank Investec, said that the world is not just facing an oil price shock, as in the 1970s, but also shocks in other areas such as gas and food.
“We really haven’t got an awful lot of good news, because it isn’t just an oil price shock, and it’s really crucial to express that, and also this is not just a Russia-Ukraine shock, that has added on top of what was going to be a high oil price and gas price year anyway,” he said.
“We’ve got to be up front, this is going to last for a while. This is not just this year, and maybe if there’s a peace accord between Ukraine and Russia it all goes away.
“Maybe it moderates, but this is going to be a cost of living crisis for people for a long time to come.”
It underlines the incredibly high costs that will start to hit households across the UK.
Energy bills are already set to soar by more than 50% for the average household from April 1.
Experts say that if gas prices stay as high as they are now, then household energy bills could increase by another 50% in October.
Asked where alternative energy could come from, Mr Piper said that fracking for more gas is a “red herring,” because the UK does not have the same geology as the US.
But the North Sea might be able to produce more oil and gas than previously planned, he said.
Dr Sen also said that renewable energy would be an important way of replacing Russian energy.