AN AVERAGE two-car family in Widnes and Runcorn has been forced to stump up an extra £250 for fuel since the start of the year.
And for weeks prices have been above the 85p mark, the limit which sparked the fuel protests in 2000.
Now, plastic petrol cans are being dusted off across Halton as rumours grow about possible blockades in the coming days and weeks. At the time of writing protesters have already threatened to return to the refineries if the Government fails to slash the tax on fuel.
Farmer and haulier Andrew Spence, a spokesman for the Fuel Lobby, said every refinery in the country - including Shell at Stanlow - has warned blockades could begin this week if cuts were not seen before then.
The lobby said it was prepared to re-create the week-long protests of September 2000 which caused shortages and panic buying at the pumps.
Mr Spence, from Consett in County Durham, said: 'We want to see an immediate reduction in taxation to bring fuel prices down or as of 6am Wednesday [September 14], there won't be a refinery in the country left open.
'Every refinery will be blockaded.' In response to the threat, a Treasury spokesman said: 'We believe the biggest priority in terms of reducing fuel costs must be working with the American government to restore production levels affected by the Hurricane Katrina disaster, as well as maintaining pressure on Opec to set their oil production at levels consistent with more stable and sustainable prices.
'More than half the fuel used in the UK bears little or no fuel duty at all, including the red diesel used by farmers like Mr Spence, and the fuel used in industrial production, heating of homes and workplaces, and rail and bus transport, so seeking to address the problem of high oil prices through road fuel duty alone would do nothing for the majority of consumers.'
But regardless of war and a natural disaster, families are seeing more of their hard earned cash going up in a puff of smoke as they still need to get to work, take the kids to school or visit their families.
And the reason they are paying so much for fuel is tax.
Opec, the exclusive world oil producers' club, has produced a chart outlining who gets what from a litre of oil.
Surprisingly, the basic oil price for all the G7 nations is $0.2 a litre, except the USA where it is $0.19. Industry margins (ie petrol company profit) ranges from about $0.08 in Germany to $0.18 in Japan, in the UK it is about $0.16 a litre.
So pre-tax, a litre of oil in the UK costs $0.36 a litre. In the USA about $0.3 a litre.
After tax a litre of oil in the UK costs $0.98 a litre. In the USA about $0.42 a litre.
Opec says: 'If gasoline were not so heavily taxed in countries such as the UK it would be only a fraction of the current price.
'Wherever you live, that's something to think about next time you stop to fill up your tank.'
Easy for Opec to say as they don't have a national health service to pay for.
But the current problems of dizzying fuel costs and daily price rises are not down to taxation, but those oil-producing countries part of Opec.
Hurricane Katrina - which has killed thousands of people in southern USA and left many more homeless - has affected oil production in the Gulf of Mexico.
When that is coupled with the second Gulf War, oil prices have gone to record levels as industry analysts forecast global distribution problems, despite tens-of-billions of barrels being stockpiled over the last decade or so for such eventualities.