Motorists face more misery on the forecourt as petrol prices soared to a new high and the price of oil touched the 100 US dollars a barrel mark for the first time yesterday.

The cost of a litre of petrol at the pumps is now 103.3p - beating the previous record of 102.92p set on Boxing Day.

It came as the New York Mercantile Exchange (Nymex) confirmed a transaction had been made for crude oil at 100 US dollars a barrel.

Concerns over violence in Nigeria's oil producing capital and falling US stockpiles helped push the oil price up by more than two dollars in Asian trading yesterday.

The price level came within touching distance of 100 dollars a barrel two months ago - when it reached a record 99.29 - on fears over US stock levels, a weak dollar and concerns over conflict in northern Iraq disrupting supplies.

Dealers are bracing themselves for a report due today which is likely to show the seventh straight weekly decline for US inventories.

The increase at UK petrol stations means that filling a typical 50-litre tank now costs £7.36 more than a year ago.

The AA said diesel was now costing 107.95p a litre - just off the record of 108.00p set on December 6 2007.

AA public affairs head Paul Watters said: "The closure of superstores during the festive holidays, although many kept their petrol stations open, may account for the new record highs for petrol.

"However, with oil prices again rising above 95 dollars a barrel, the start of the year shows little sign of relief for UK motorists."

He added: "We had hoped that petrol and diesel prices had hit a plateau that reflected the price of oil above 90 dollars a barrel. If the two new highs turn out to be blips, it will underline the importance of supermarkets in holding down the price of car fuels."

Oil prices rose by more than 50 per cent last year, also driven higher by speculative buying - traders betting that the price would rise - and investors using oil as a hedge against the weakness of the dollar.