Falling oil prices led to a 62 per cent slide in first-quarter profits at BP – but West Midlands motorists aren’t profiting after a rise in petrol prices.

The energy giant saw first-quarter profits fall 62 per cent, to £1.64?billion, after oil prices slumped from last summer’s record level above $147 to below $50.

But drivers in the region saw a five per cent spike in petrol bills last month, and drivers say they are being made to pay by the oil industry trying to pump up prices and another increase in fuel duty in last month’s Budget.

BP, which last year turned over a record £18.1?billion, said profits more than halved at its exploration and production division, to £2.96?billion.

Yesterday’s update from BP was still stronger than market expectations, with the profit figure excluding one-off items coming in at £1.76?billion – stronger than the £1.53?billion forecast in the City.

Meanwhile, latest figures from The AA show petrol prices rose from 90.5p per litre to 95.1p per litre this month, while diesel rose almost 3p, to 102.6p.

Paul Biggs, Birmingham spokesman for the Association of British Drivers, said motorists were paying to heavily at the pumps.

He said oil producers have cut back production but he blames government taxes. He said Alistair Darling’s announcement in last week’s Budget that fuel duty would rise by 2p a litre in September was unwelcome news.

He said: “Most of the price we pay for fuel goes on tax and VAT. You can’t accuse oil companies of having too much profit when the government keeps putting the duty up.”

AA president Edmund King said: “It is not clear whether it is the stock markets or the oil industry trying to pump up the value of oil.

“However, with laden tankers moored off-shore as temporary storage indicating major stock surpluses, there is growing concern that the fundamentals of supply and demand are not being reflected in prices.”