As BP prepares to sever all ties with Arval, the issue of card payments has been hitting the headlines. BP wrote to its dealers last month saying it was ending its agreement with the fuel card company due to soaring costs. And while many retailers seemed to agree that Arval had been too greedy, they remain worried about losing this part of their business.

The focus elsewhere has been on card fraud. The Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMIF) has warned that credit card fraud is up 25% on 2006, while police in Birmingham have raided an alleged Chip & PIN factory and found stolen Chip & PIN terminals and counterfeit magnetic stripe cards. Police thought the fraudsters were hiding devices inside check out card readers to unscramble codes and reveal PIN numbers and warned that petrol stations would be the most likely targets.

Meanwhile, Tesco has been criticised over its delay in rolling out Chip & PIN technology at its pay-at-pump facilities.

And as the rising cost of fuel makes drive-offs more attractive to criminals, industry bosses have predicted that every petrol pump in the UK will go pre-pay by 2011. Although as Petrol Retailers’ Association (PRA) director Ray Holloway points out in his column on page 7, this will depend on a better understanding of how shop and forecourt sales are connected.

Northern Ireland seems to be blazing a trail in this area with the opening of a fully-automated site in Cookstown. The 24-hour forecourt uses the Go fuel brand, which is part of energy company LCC Group, and is run solely on pay at pump technology.

LCC Group director Daniel Loughran says: "The site is fully automated so there’s no requirement for it to be manned or have an adjoining shop. It’s very simple to use and translates into competitive fuel prices for customers. Given the current economic climate, we felt it was the right time to introduce it."

More on Arval in News Extra on page 10.