Hardly a day goes by without a newspaper headline telling us about the next big thing in the world of transport. Artificial Intelligence. Driverless cars. Real-time data sharing with other road users. Deliveries bringing fuel direct to your home or business. Low-carbon fuels, both liquid and non-liquid, hydrocarbon and non-hydrocarbon.
While the Sturm-und-Drang of politics rightly absorbs our immediate attention, it is this revolution in how we move across and between our towns and cities, countries and continents that will determine the future shape of the oil sector, from the refinery to the filling station.
These changes have the potential to completely up-end the traditional fuel supply business. Without proper planning, the potential exists for many in our sector to be left behind in a new competitive and decarbonising environment. This makes it essential that we embrace these anticipated new developments, and help to shape the future of mobility, as opposed to fighting them or wishing them away. UKPIA and our members are leading the way in thinking about this brave new world.
At the consumer-end of the industry, this means a reimagined forecourt, with space for electric, hybrid and conventionally-powered vehicles; an expansive retail offer to satisfy customers; and greater use of automation in what will become a place not just of convenience, but a hub for consumer choice and transport demand.
Our industry must be prepared to engage with others, especially with government and consumers, to ensure that these changes are managed pragmatically and with minimal disruption. That is the role UKPIA is ready to take. However, it is also incumbent on us to take advantage of the rich opportunities in front of us, and not simply avoid risks. UKPIA’s ’Future Vision’ due to be published this summer explores these developments and outlines what they might mean for our industry. Developing our own vision, rather than having someone else’s forced upon us, will be the only way we can ensure continued economic growth and that we play a vital part in keeping society moving, both now and in the future.