Fearing a consumer backlash caused by the recent rise in gasoline prices, European governments are moving quickly to pressure oil companies and refiners. In Britain, the government urged OPEC to increase production to control crude oil prices, while in France, gasoline producers have been threatened with a windfall profit tax.

Gas prices fell as much as 7 cents a liter in Britain over the weekend. Meanwhile, French oil company Total has pledged to build more refineries and to protect consumers from price fluctuations in wholesale prices.

Governments are concerned that consumer protests could force them to give up some of their fuel tax revenue, which amounts to on average about 65 percent of the retail price.

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