In an effort to alleviate the ongoing fuel situation, the government is to suspend competition law in the sector.
Following a meeting with senior executives from the fuel sector, Businesses Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng agreed to implement a measure to temporarily exempt it from the Competition Act 1998 for the purpose of sharing information and optimising supply.
The measure, known as The Downstream Oil Protocol, will make it easier for industry to share information, so that they can more easily prioritise the delivery of fuel to the parts of the country and strategic locations that are most in need.
He said: “We have long-standing contingency plans in place to work with industry so that fuel supplies can be maintained and deliveries can still be made in the event of a serious disruption.
“While there has always been and continues to be plenty of fuel at refineries and terminals, we are aware that there have been some issues with supply chains. This is why we will enact the Downstream Oil Protocol to ensure industry can share vital information and work together more effectively to ensure disruption is minimised.
“We thank HGV drivers and all forecourt staff for their tireless work during this period.”
The fuel situation stems from a lack of HGV drivers which means fuel is not getting to forecourts quick enough, however media attention of the issue has sparked panic buying amongst consumers, leading to queues at forecourts. The lack of HGV drivers has caused availability issues in convenience in recent months however the government has announced that it will be temporarily adding 5,000 HGV drivers to the existing visa scheme to ease supply chain pressures.
In a joint statement, industry stakeholders, which include the Association of Convenience Stores, UK Petroleum Industry Association and Fuels Transport and Logistics, said discussions with government were ongoing. “We are in regular contact with Government ministers and policy officials and it was reassuring to meet with the Business Secretary again on Sunday evening and discuss further action.
“We will continue to work closely in partnership over this period with local and national Government and want to reassure the public that the issues that have arisen are due to temporary spikes in customer demand, not a national shortage of fuel.”