(Bloomberg) -- UK petrol prices surged to a fresh record -- amid the first clear signs that demand might be starting to slip because of the jump in fuel costs.

The average UK diesel price rose to an unprecedented 198 pence a liter on Wednesday, while petrol hit 189.84p, also a record, according to the RAC motoring organization. Soaring fuel costs helped lift UK inflation to 9.1% in May, the highest in four decades.

But there are signs that motorists are starting to balk at the high prices. Average sales of both fuels were down by about 3% week on week, according to government data. They were also noticeably down from a year ago -- when some Covid-19 lockdown measures were still in place, potentially curbing demand.

The oil market is on high-alert for demand destruction globally because of high prices. Fuel costs have rallied far more sharply than the cost of crude amid signs of a bottleneck in global oil refining capacity.

“It seems as though we are just days away from the frightening prospect of the price of diesel averaging £2 a litre across the UK, taking the cost of a full tank to a staggering £110 ($134.43),” said Simon Williams, fuel spokesman for the RAC. 

The government fuel sales data represent sampled filling stations in Great Britain. They show diesel sales down by 6.8% in the seven days ended in June 19 relative to June 14-20 last year, when there were some limits on social contact. Petrol sales were down by 2.3% over the same period.

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.