Stepping into a New Year calls for reflection and 2013 was a momentous one for our downstream oil industry.

UKPIA hit the ground running in 2013 with a joint publication with the RAC Foundation, by Ricardo-AEA, ’Powering Ahead: The future of low-carbon cars and fuels’.

This incisive report set out to examine how the challenge of achieving the UK’s legally binding commitment of an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, would affect the cars and fuels we will use over the next 20 years.

The study concluded that, while there will be a multitude of options for consumers to choose from in the years to come both in terms of fuels and vehicles conventional petrol and diesel cars will remain the dominant technology in transport for a long time yet.

We also commissioned an independent report, by IHS Purvin & Gertz, to assess the role and future of oil refining and its value to the UK economy, which would inform the review that the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) was carrying out into the sector.

The report highlighted the serious challenges faced by UK oil refining, which will have implications for the economy, jobs and potential impacts upon energy supply security.

At the same time, the Energy and Climate Change Committee mounted an inquiry and subsequent report into our sector, which echoed our concerns and called for government action to maintain the health of the UK’s refining industry.

This year is going to be a decisive one. As I write this column, we await the outcome of the DECC review and anything short of positive measures will fail the industry.

At EU level, an analysis of legislative impacts on refining, through a ’Fitness Check’, is expected in September 2014.

With the right infrastructure and regulatory framework, we can ensure that oil products can be supplied via retailers to consumers at affordable prices, meeting the UK’s current and future energy needs in a way that is consistent with sustainable environmental policy and economic growth.

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