Forecourt Trader - 30 years at the heart of the fuel retailing community

Merril Boulton: Radio 4 on the case

Good to hear PRA chairman Brian Madderson on BBC Radio 4 last month giving his usual bit of welly on behalf of the industry. If you didn't hear it you can catch up online on iPlayer Radio.

The subject of the File On 4 programme (June 25, 8pm) was about the way in which oil is traded on the commodities market. It followed the European Commission raid on the London offices of BP, Shell and price reporting agency Platts, and Statoil's head office in Norway, as an investigation into claims of collusion to manipulate fuel prices on the international market was revealed.

One 'insider' claimed to have seen "first hand" the nervousness of traders, who he claims were clearly aware they were breaking the rules. During the programme Brian explained his concern that there was no transparency in the marketplace and his frustration at being unable to explain to PRA members why fuel prices could fluctuate so wildly. He cited a particular period last year when fuel prices spiked by 10ppl at a time of oversupply and lack of demand.

Others, such as Robert Halfon MP said they believed the Office of Fair Trading's decision earlier this year not to pursue an in-depth investigation "massively let the motorist down". Another MP commented that the OFT had a responsibility to continue to investigate and "not walk away". The programme asked whether British regulators were proving slow to recognise the potential problem of a fuel-price reporting system that appears to be open to abuse. It concluded by saying that neither the OFT, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, or the Department of Energy and Climate Change, were available for comment. Which kind of answered the question. More programmes like this please.

Meanwhile, stand by your forecourts with your brooms and dusters, the Forecourt Trader Awards judging team is on the road this month. Best of luck!

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Weekly retail fuel prices: 20 May 2019
RegionDieselLPGSuper ULUL
East Midlands135.28141.26129.82
North East134.06140.71129.20
North West134.87139.96129.27
Northern Ireland131.95135.90127.71
South East135.9463.57142.34130.70
South West135.01139.53129.65
West Midlands134.83141.89129.64
Yorkshire & Humber134.1257.70141.27129.10

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Following last month's London protests and damage to Shell's UK HQ, do you believe forecourts should be preparing themselves in case of possible attacks by climate change campaigners?