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UK faces six weeks of record petrol price rises

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Dry run: A near-deserted Shell station in Edinburgh

Daily Telegraph: UK faces six weeks of record petrol price rises

Richard Edwards
Last Updated: 7:21pm BST 27/04/2008

Britain faces six weeks of record petrol price rises in the wake of the Grangemouth oil refinery strike, trade experts have warned.

Officials are expecting to announce the 15th straight day of increases in the average pump prices for petrol and diesel across the UK.

The run started because of the threat of closure of the Grangemouth refinery in Scotland, a consumer research group said, but the impact of the disruption of oil supply will continue to be felt across the UK into June as it heads towards a predicted mark of £1.50 a litre of petrol in some areas.

Thousands of motorists have ignored calls to avoid panic buying during a “Sunday rush” for the week ahead by families, commuters and lorry drivers.

The 48-hour strike at Grangemouth refinery in Scotland led oil giant BP to turn off its Forties Pipeline, which delivers 30 per cent of the UK’s daily oil output.

The pipeline brings in 700,000 barrels of oil a day from the North Sea to BP’s Kinneil plant, which is powered from the Grangemouth site.

Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister, said there was no crisis but is expected to discuss the situation with Gordon Brown in London on Monday, amid claims that the Government should be doing more to end the dispute.

Industry representative Oil and Gas UK said ministers must stop the country being “held to ransom”.

There is the possibility of a further strike, with no signs of an end to the dispute over the pensions package offered to new workers at the refinery.

New figures that will be compiled on Monday are expected to show a surge in petrol pump prices and examples of profiteering had already been seen in some parts of the UK.

Louise Doherty, of the consumer research website petrolprices, said: “When there is a rise in the price of oil it takes six weeks for the prices to be passed on to the consumer,” she said.

“I expect to see the same here, with six weeks of price rises until it may settle.”

While many petrol forecourts saw normal Sunday traffic, there was panic buying in several areas of the UK, including in Southampton – 450 miles from Grangemouth.

Andrew Greening, 42, a salesman from Southampton joined a six-deep queue and waited for 20 minutes to fill up at a Shell garage.

“I’ve got a lot of miles to do this week and wanted to make sure I had a full tank of petrol. I know the Government is saying there’s no need to worry about supplies, but I just don’t want to risk it. Without fuel I haven’t got a job,” he said.

The AA warned that panic buying would push up pump prices. A spokesman said: “It’s the economic rule that if there a shortage in the supply of something then the price goes up.”

On Friday, when the last figures were available, the average UK prices for petrol stood at 109.24p a litre, with diesel at 119.26p.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2008/04/28/npipe128.xml

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