Birmingham business leaders have called for special taxes to be levied on oil companies if they are found to be making windfall profits from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The move follows new threats of refinery blockades by the same fuel protesters who brought the country to a standstill five years ago.

Fuel Lobby spokesman Andrew Spence has said "there won't be a refinery in the country left open" if the Government does not cut fuel taxes before 6am next Wednesday.

The country's largest inland oil terminal at Kingsbury, Warwickshire, was a main focus of the blockades in 2000 - a week-long protest which caused panic and fuel shortages at petrol stations and is estimated to have cost UK business over #1 billion.

Jerry Blackett, policy director of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, said he would be against any protest which reduced business competitiveness by wasting time and resources.

However, he described the current price of oil as "a real issue beginning to bite our members".

Around three quarters of the cost of a litre of petrol goes to the Government in duty and tax, and prices have increased recently with the effects of Hurricane Katrina on US oilfields. The global oil price has now reached a new high of $70 per barrel.

Mr Blackett said: "I would like to see oil companies' profits going under the microscope and if it were found that any form of windfall profits were being made then there would be a case for a special tax on them.

"I am against subsidies and anything that interferes with the market so maybe it is time to look at a whole new system of paying for transport."

Last night Warwickshire Police declared itself ready to deal with a blockade at the Kingsbury terminal.

Superintendent of area operations Mak Chishty said: " Warwickshire Police has contingency plans to deal with protests and the inevitable disruption that follows."