Govt suspends competition laws to allow fuel companies to tackle supply crisis

UK

The UK is temporarily suspending competition laws for the fuel industry to allow the sharing of information and to target petrol stations running dry around the UK as a result of driver shortages.

Earlier, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng met with fuel industry executives in an effort to find a way through the current supply chain pressures.

In a statement, Mr 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.

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Transport Secretary: ‘Carry on as normal’

“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 industry will now be temporarily exempt from the Competition Act 1998 for the purpose of sharing information and optimising supply.

More on Supply Crisis

The Downstream Oil Protocol will make it easier for the government and fuel suppliers, producers and hauliers to work together and prioritise the delivery of fuel to the locations most in need.

In a joint statement, industry stakeholders 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.”

The government will be hoping the new measures help ease the pressures brought on by a HGV driver shortage, which has seen supermarkets struggle to fill their shelves and petrol stations being overrun by motorists.

On Saturday night, the government revealed it would offer short-term visas for foreign hauliers to come to the UK and help plug the gap in the supply chain.

Thousands more drivers will be trained up too, with the government fast-tracking those who want to get out on to the roads as soon as possible.

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Fuel crisis is ‘manufactured’

However, the move has been widely criticised by the industry.

Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said the measures “will do little to alleviate the current shortfall”.

“Supermarkets alone have estimated they need at least 15,000 HGV drivers for their businesses to be able to operate at full capacity ahead of Christmas and avoid disruption or availability issues.”

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