As nations have been forced into lockdown due to Covid-19, we have seen the mightiest of governments, central banks and corporate titans laid low by a virus approximately 0.125 microns in diameter something so small as to be dwarfed by a red blood cell. While the virus is invisible, the impact is not.
For the downstream oil sector, there are no more consequential sets of figures than the slides at Downing Street press conferences showing the near total collapse in transport use across the UK. With journeys by all transport types down by over 60%, the knock-on effect from this cliff-edge drop in demand is the most severe set of economic conditions that fuel suppliers and forecourt operators have ever had to face.
Most harrowing of all, however, are the updates on how many more people have been diagnosed with the virus and, sadly, how many have died as a result. Phrases like ’exponential growth’ and ’flattening the curve’ have entered the lexicon of everyday life, giving a statistical gloss to the painful reality of thousands of people across the world succumbing to this deadly disease.
Yet amid the encircling gloom there are nonetheless beams of light.
We have all been overawed at the professionalism of those working in our health and social care sectors, as well as in other important public services as we tackle coronavirus. While less visible to the rest of the country, however, our own industry has stepped up to the mark in order to keep Britain moving.
In spite of unparalleled challenges, the downstream oil sector has demonstrated its resilience like never before. Key workers at refineries, terminals, pipelines, tanker depots and filling stations have kept the fuel supply running. With their efforts and ingenuity overcoming extraordinary logistical odds, they have prevented this crisis from becoming a catastrophe, and for that we owe them our thanks. Nobody knows how long this pandemic will last, nor can anyone promise a swift return to normalcy when it does. However, those underlying strengths displayed by our industry throughout Covid-19 will be exactly what is needed to lift UK plc back up on its feet.