Finance

Drivers could be hit by PETROL shortage next month as workers threaten to strike

PETROL supplies could soon be hit if workers at the country’s largest refinery vote to strike, as prices at forecourts near record highs.

A ballot of 100 workers at Exxon Mobil’s Fawley refinery near Southampton began yesterday with strike action poised to begin in April if they vote in favour.

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The workers’ union said supplies may be affectedCredit: PA

The workers are protesting against a proposed 2.5% annual pay rise for the next two years, a figure which Union Unite called “insulting” given the rise in the cost of living.

This could hit petrol supplies as some of those affected work to provide fuel to airports for aircraft as well as petrol and diesel for garage forecourts, the union said.

Meanwhile, average petrol prices are at a record of almost £1.50 a litre.

Fuel hit a record 149.12pa liter on Sunday and experts think it is likely to top £1.50 by the end of the week – a new high.

That means filling up a typical 55-litre tank in a family car with unleaded now costs nearly £82.

Average diesel prices also set a record at the weekend, hitting 152.58pa litre, making a full tank nearly £84.

Prices hit £1.40 for the first time in a decade in October.

Why are prices rising?

There was a drop in wholesale energy prices at the end of last year when the Omicron variant emerged, undermining economic confidence.

Prices at the fuel pump dropped slightly in January as a result.

But growing tensions between Russia and the west over Ukraine have affected energy prices.

If Russia – the world’s third biggest oil producer – invades Ukraine, any resulting sanctions from other countries could potentially increase prices.

This is because the US, UK and EU might stop Russia exporting oil, which would mean less supply, pushing the wholesale price up.

Last week, Simon Williams, the fuel spokesman for the RAC, said drivers could be in for an “even worse ride as pump prices look certain to go up even more”.

“With the oil price teetering on the brink of $100 a barrel and retailers keen to pass on the increase in wholesale fuel quickly, new record prices could now be set on a daily basis in the coming weeks.”

Some experts think prices for oil could hit $120 a barrel in the coming weeks.

The recent price rise has also been blamed on a lack of competition between supermarkets, and people getting out and about more as the UK recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

Should I fill my car up now?

It is important not to panic. We don’t yet know whether the workers will strike, or what impact it will have.

In September last year, the UK experienced a petrol shortage which led to huge queues at garages.

But Edmund King, the president of the AA, said at the time that it was actually the panic buying rather than supply chain issues causing the shortage of fuel at some petrol stations.

As people filled up more often than they would usually, garages struggled to keep up with demand.

So it is really important not to do anything different from normal.

Driver blown away to learn proper use for slot on his car – changing the way he fills up at petrol station

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