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Merril Boulton: editor

Well wow what a deal! MFG and MRH coming together to create one big group (see News Extra, page 10). We had reported the rumours in Forecourt Trader, but generally in the industry few seemed overly invested in the idea that it would really happen.

Brian Madderson: PRA chairman

With almost the entire UK recently feeling the arctic effects of the 'Beast from the East' mingling with Storm Emma, my thoughts turned to all those drivers stuck for hours in their vehicles. Then my thoughts turned to Electric Vehicles (EVs), and I wondered just how long their batteries would last with the engine on, heaters at maximum, radio keeping the news updated. And, when they ran out of juice, how could they be quickly re-charged?

Charlotte Blum: analysis editor, Argus Media

The oil market is having trouble assessing how oil producers, especially in the US, are stepping into the breach left by Opec/non-Opec output cuts. Throw in expectations of higher demand, and you have a market where Brent first lost almost 10% of its value and then rose again by 5% in the past month. Fuel prices at UK retail stations have caught up with the downturn in crude markets in the first half of February, but not yet with the subsequent rise. Pump prices were not much changed on average in February from January, whereas Brent was lower by $3.35/bl or almost 5%.

David Charman: chairman Car Wash Association

Recently there have been several high-profile raids on unregulated hand car washes (HCW). In the largest, police raided hand car washes and 30 residential addresses in Milton Keynes. Officers found 36 "modern slaves", 13 people were arrested and large quantities of drugs were found. This confirms that government and the key agencies are following leads on human trafficking and slavery. However, the disappointing outcome was that at least two of these HCW were open again just days after being raided.

Tracy West: retail commentator

The first of the Bank Holidays hits later this month with Good Friday on March 30, followed closely by Easter Monday on April 2. The true meaning of Easter may have been forgotten by most people, but it still resonates with many thanks to those extra days off work for most, if not all, people.

Merril Boulton: editor

Out and about in the petrol retailing world and it's not long before the conversation turns to electric vehicle charging. It's clearly top of mind for the sector, although no one is completely sure what to do about it. Some retailers are boldly leasing off car parking spaces to charging equipment suppliers for 15 years, as they gain a foothold in the market, as well as an income. Decision made they've future-proofed their business. Many are more wary of such a commitment that could complicate matters in the future should they want to sell their sites. Others are hanging back to see what happens. In a world of fast-moving technological developments, when is the right time to invest? How soon will any charging equipment become slow and outdated? It's the same for motorists, and when you look at the sales figures (News Extra, page 10), despite all the noise, claims of electric vehicle sales reaching a 'tipping point' are rather far fetched.

Stephen Marcos Jones: director general, UKPIA

This year signals another gear-shift in the energy transition to a lower-carbon economy. Spearheaded by COP 21, governments around the globe are setting far-reaching ambitions to fundamentally re-stitch the tapestry of the energy industry, society and the natural environment. Parts of the energy sector have translated this into opportunity, while others may see Damocles' sword hanging precariously above them.

Charlotte Blum: analysis editor, Argus Media

Oil prices are at their highest for three years. Global economic growth is especially supporting middle distillate prices, keeping diesel well above petrol at UK retail stations.

Ray Blake: PRA technical director

The PRA technical team is receiving a number of enquiries about when they must notify their Petroleum Enforcing Authority (PEA) of changes they wish to make to their fuel storage and dispensing arrangements.

Tracy West: retail commentator

My local Jet garage is switching to Esso fuel. I asked a member of staff whether that meant prices would go up and he said 'no' and if anything they'd be cheaper. I asked him the reason for the switch and he said they needed to drum up more trade (there is new competition in the area) and Esso, with its link to the Tesco Clubcard, was expected to be a crowd pleaser. We'll have to wait and see. But all this got me thinking about the power of the fuel brand.

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Weekly retail fuel prices: 24 February 2020
RegionDieselLPGSuper ULUL
East Midlands127.70137.72124.65
North East125.92136.20122.89
North West126.8567.57135.95124.01
Northern Ireland124.76130.73121.98
South East128.6564.90139.38125.39
South West127.77135.04124.41
West Midlands127.58140.14124.60
Yorkshire & Humber126.87137.50123.73

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