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Government suspends fuel competition laws to help ease fuel crisis

Updated: Sep 28, 2021

The UK has temporarily suspended fuel industry competition laws in a bid to ease the fuel shortages caused by a lack of HGV drivers.

The Business Secretary met with senior executives from the fuel industry following recent supply chain issues at petrol forecourts in some areas of the UK. During the meeting, attendees discussed issues caused by supply chain pressures and spikes in localised demand.

After discussions Businesses Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has this evening agreed to implement a measure to temporarily exempt industry from the Competition Act 1998 for the purpose of sharing information and optimising supply.

Known as The Downstream Oil Protocol, this step will allow Government to work constructively with fuel producers, suppliers, hauliers and retailers to ensure that disruption is minimised as far as possible.

The measure 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.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng 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 decision follows a package of measures announced over the weekend which will see the Government ease temporary supply chain pressures brought on by the pandemic and the global economy rebounding around the world.”

These include an immediate increase in HGV testing, short term visas for HGV drivers and new skills bootcamps to train up to 3,000 more people to become HGV drivers.

In a joint statement, stakeholders which include Shell, ExxonMobil and UKPIA, said: “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.”


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