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26 Jan 2012

Worrying news for the fuel industry came this week in the shape of Petroplus, Europe’s largest independent oil refiner, announcing it is to file for insolvency.

As shares in Petroplus were suspended, so too were fuel supplies by the Coryton refinery in Essex, which is owned by the beleaguered oil giant. Unfortunately, it also supplies around 20 percent of London and the south east’s petrol. The question that springs to our mind is: what will the fall-out be, regionally and nationally, of one of the UK’s largest refineries stopping its taps?

Despite assurances from analysts and spokespeople that this shortfall will be made up for by other refineries in the south, this news will no doubt shake the industry and individual businesses already fighting to keep their heads above water.

And it’s not just national fuel supplies on the line. Coryton refinery directly employs about 500 staff and 350 contractors. Hundreds more Petroplus jobs elsewhere in the country are also at risk.

All in all, it’s been a bleak week for the oil industry. The EU has just approved sanctions to boycott fuel from Iran. And in the north of England, petrol supplies to Jet stations are under threat after fuel truck workers began a seven-day strike over pay and pensions  outside the ConocoPhillips-owned Humber oil refinery.

Peter Carroll of campaign group FairFuelUK, warned that petrol and diesel prices at the pumps could both pass £1.50 per litre “within days”.

“This could be the tipping point,” he told the Express. “The toxic combination of the situation with Iran, the Wincanton drivers’ strike and the Coryton refinery closure will be very dangerous.”

He also warned of further problems brought about by the “temptation to panic buy and profiteering”.

We don’t know about you, but all this has left us with a dreadful sinking feeling that the darkest days for the transport industry may indeed lie ahead…

To sign the national petition for fairer fuel prices, visit www.fairfueluk.com

This campaign has the backing of The Fuelcard Company, the Road Haulage Association, RAC and the Freight Transport Association.
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