Oil price surge: Motorists hit with warning as fuel rationing looms amid petrol crisis

BBC Breakfast compare petrol and diesel prices

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Russell Hardy, chief executive at Dutch energy and commodity trading company Vitol, warned last week a diesel shortage could kickstart a diesel rationing crisis across the continent. There are growing concerns that issues with diesel supply could lead to a European economic slowdown.

Mr Hardy said: “Europe imports about half of its diesel from Russia and about half of its diesel from the Middle East. That systemic shortfall of diesel is there.”

John Cooper, director-general of Fuels Europe, said: “Governments have a very clear understanding that there is a clear link between diesel and GDP, because almost everything that goes into and out of a factory goes using diesel.”

The news comes after Western leaders slapped sanctions on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.

The USA announced it would ban Russian oil products, the UK is phasing out similar products by the end of 2022 and the European Union is currently assessing whether to go ahead with a ban.

Sanctions proved problematic given Russia’s significance as a diesel exporter to the continent.

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The issue could be particularly problematic in Germany as according to data from the EU statistics agency, Germany relied on Russia for almost 30 percent of its diesel and gas oil imports in 2020.

While the UK is less reliant than its European allies on Russian gas supplies, official figures show Russia supplied 18 percent of diesel to the UK in 2020, according to Reuters.

A spokesperson from the UK Petroleum Industry Association said fuel suppliers are working with the Government to deliver the fuels the UK needs “while adjusting long-term supply routes to reduce reliance on Russian crude oil and oil products”.

However, Gunvor co-founder and chair Torbjorn Tornqvist, explained the diesel problem could go global.

The Swede said: “Diesel is not just a European problem, this is a global problem.”

The news comes as the RAC put the latest prices at pumps close to record highs.

Unleaded cost Brits 164.59 pence per litre, according to the most recent data from March 24.

This is a drop of a little under 3 pence from March 23.

Diesel saw an even smaller fall as it went from 179.9 pence per litre on March 23 to 178.13 pence per litre on March 24.

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The automotive services company has also predicted for the price of unleaded, super unleaded and diesel to take a further fall in the near future.

The albeit modest drop comes after Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a five pence fuel duty cut in his spring statement.

However, the AA’s fuel price spokesman claimed less than half of the levy reduction helped penny-pinching Brits struggling to deal with the cost of living crisis.

Luke Bosdet said: “The Chancellor rode to the rescue of drivers on Wednesday and, even before the 6pm start of the fuel duty cut, drivers were reporting the price cut at some Asda forecourts.

“However, on Thursday, the average price of petrol showed that less than half (2.71p) of the fuel duty cut had been passed on to drivers.”

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