The world price of oil has gone down in the last month, but the June price of unleaded petrol or diesel remains around 82 pence per litre according to the Automobile Association
June 2004 Archives
This is attributed to "sentiment" in the oil market over the handover of sovereignty in Iraq. i.e. the grasping at any current news headlines to explain market price movements, regardless of whether the headlines are actually directly relevant or not.
The BBC reports that "Hauliers stage fuel price protest"
"Hauliers set off at between 5mph and 10mph with a police escort
Road hauliers have taken to the streets of Edinburgh to protest against the continuing high cost of fuel.
Dozens of hauliers set off from the Portobello area at 1000 BST sounding their horns, accompanied by a police escort.
It had been thought that 400 trucks might have taken part in the protest.
The lorry drivers headed for the city centre and on to Gogar on the city's western outskirts, where the protest ended at 1130 BST.
The demonstration was organised by members of the Road Haulage Association in Scotland.
RHA chief executive Roger King said: "We are happy with the numbers because we did not want to create too much disruption but we want enough to make our point.
"Three to four hundred is over the top from our point of view to do what we are setting out to do, which is telling Gordon Brown to review the fuel tax increase in September in a positive way."
Phil Flanders, the association's director for Scotland and Northern Ireland, said: "The members within my region are suffering like never before.
"Operators are now working to the tightest possible margins, meaning even a small profit on a job will soon be a thing of the past."
Environmental campaigners also gathered by the roadside in a rival protest.
Greenpeace activists were at the scene and Scottish Green Party transport spokesman Chris Ballance said they provided a "counter voice" to the fuel demonstration.
As the vehicles drove through the city at between 5mph and 10mph, Green MSP for the Lothians Mark Ballard stepped in front of the first truck in Princes Street with a banner reading "Stop Climate Change" before he was removed by police.
Other environmental campaigners booed and hissed the trucks before the convoy moved on.
Mr Ballard said: "I wanted to make a point to the truckers, that climate change is the biggest issue facing Scotland.
"Cheap oil is not an option - we need to burn less, and get our economy less dependent on oil.
"We need to find another way to help the haulage industry change for a better future - where more freight gets onto the railways, where truck movements are more efficient and fuel use is reduced."
The association has warned of the impact if Chancellor Gordon Brown goes ahead with plans to increase duty levels by 1.9p per litre from 1 September.
Earlier this month the chancellor said he would review that decision again in August, leaving open the option that the rise could be postponed.
A number of planned fuel protests across the UK were postponed after his announcement.
The Fuel Lobby, one of the main protest groups, said it was prepared to give Mr Brown "the benefit of the doubt" as it waited to see his proposals.
However Mr Flanders added: "A promise of a review is not good enough for the hauliers in Scotland.
"We have to keep this pressure up through the summer to make sure the chancellor does give it a fair hearing." "
Do you yhink that the pressure should be kept up on the Chancellor about the planned Fuel Tax increase in September ?
The BBC reports that most of the oil exports from Iraq through the Basra pipelines has been stopped by terrorist attacks.
Previous attacks on the pipelines have taken up to 2 weeks to mend.
The amount of oil lost from the world market is about the same as the recent OPEC oil rxport increase, so, presumably, the price of oil will not fall any time soon.
Who are the speculators who are making money out of this situation ? Are some of them actually funding and encouraging the terrorists behind these attacks ?
The BBC report "Oil prices fuel UK inflation rate"
"The UK inflation rate has surged to its highest level in over a year as high oil prices pushed up transport costs.
The consumer price index (CPI) rose to 1.5% last month, official figures showed, up from 1.2% in April."
The BBC reports on the supermarket petrol price reductions, which has prices at the pump hovering under 80p per litre of unleaded petrol.
These fuel price reductions are not directly linked to the extra OPEC oil production promises, which have not yet been confirmed, and will not get refined and distributed into fuel on the forecourt for several weeks.
How long will these last for ? Are they enough for Chancellor Gordon Brown to sneak in his fuel tax increase in September regardless ?
Will small independent petrol stations with so much less buying power than the supermarkets, come under even more pressure to go out of business to the detriment of local communities ?
An ICM Opinion Poll in the Sunday Telegraph claims:
"Most Labour voters support protests over Brown fuel tax
By Patrick Hennessy, Political Editor
A majority of Labour voters support the staging of protests against rising fuel prices.
An ICM opinion poll for The Telegraph reveals a high level of support for demonstrations similar to those that brought chaos to Britain four years ago. It also shows widespread public anger at plans by Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, to add 1.9p to the duty on a litre of petrol in September, even as fears of terrorism in Saudi Arabia have helped to push prices towards £1 a litre.
Although Mr Brown and Tony Blair have promised to review the proposed increase, hauliers staged a rally of more than 200 lorries in Cardiff yesterday, and have threatened further action next month.
The poll shows that 63 per cent of the population back such protests, including 56 per cent of Labour supporters and 71 per cent of Tories. Overall, 76 per cent oppose the proposed rise in duty, including 73 per cent of Labour supporters. A clear majority of voters - 53 per cent - pin the blame for protests on tax policies, rather than high global oil prices. Some 51 per cent of Labour supporters agree.
The poll also reveals that more than half of those questioned (54 per cent) believe that Tony Blair's Government is "more anti-motorist" than previous administrations.
Unsurprisingly, more Tory supporters (78 per cent) agree with this point than Labour supporters (43 per cent). Measures pursued by Labour that have been criticised as anti-car include paving the way for congestion charging in London, introducing a bus lane on a section of the M4 and the fuel escalator, which saw duty on petrol outstripping inflation - although this was abandoned in 2000.
Mr Blair and Mr Brown fear a repeat of the scenes that saw Britain brought to a virtual standstill that year.
ICM Research interviewed a random sample of 509 adults aged 18 or over across the country by telephone on June 4 & 5. The results have been weighted to the profile of all adults"
Are the politicians getting the message about public discontent with their fuel taxes and energy and transport policies yet ?
The Scotsman reports that the Scots fuel-price protest will go ahead
"But the Scottish Road Haulage Association last night said that the government’s pledge to review fuel tax is not enough to reassure its members, who are planning a 300-vehicle demonstration in Edinburgh on 15 June.
"We see no reason not to go ahead," Phil Flanders, head of the association, told The Scotsman last night. "We have to keep the pressure on.""
Elliot Morley, the Environment Minister (most people will be asking themselves: Who ?) seems to be trying to deflect criticism of Government tax policy from the Chancellor onto himself and reminding the electorate to ask themselves, just exactly what are we paying the bureaucracy of the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs to do for us, and what precisely have they actually achieved ?
"Environment Minister Elliot Morley has given his full support to a letter written by green groups - Transport 2000, Green Alliance, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace UK, WWF-UK and RSPB - expressing their concern about the rationale behind threatened fuel protests.
Addressing his comments to protestors likely to attend the rally planned at Cardiff tomorrow Mr Morley said:
"A simplistic knee jerk reaction to short term petrol supply problems is not the answer. It's deplorable some people see this as a bandwagon to jump on and ignore the long-term consequences of their actions.
It is deplorable that a Government Minister comes out with a knee jerk reaction when people who are on the economic knife edge are being adversly affected by crude broadbrush Government short term taxation policies.
Would the Minister even bother to communicate with the public on this issue were it not for the threatened peaceful protests ?
"There are sound environmental reasons for levying fuel taxes.
These fuel taxes are not ring fenced to actually fund any sustainable energy and transport policies, they are simply wasted by the Treasury on general public spending, with only a small fraction of them being spent on token projects.
"It's right that the people who use the most fuel and pollute the atmosphere the most should pay for the damage they are causing.
"On average over the last ten years the overall cost of motoring has if anything fallen in real terms - that's a point that seems to have been forgotten.
So is the Government taking the credit or the blame for this reduction in the cost of motoring ?
"The current supply and demand problems illustrate the need to face facts: we must move to a low carbon economy, support energy efficiency measures and increase renewables and alternative energy sources.
"The demonstrators should think carefully about the world situation before heading out with their placards tomorrow. Part of the price increases are driven by nervousness in the markets - threats of disruption won't help.
Is Elliot Morley seriously suggesting that any peaceful protests in the UK are going to have the same effect as Al-Quaeda terrorist attacks in Saudia Arabia or the growing Chinese economy on the world price of oil ?
Or will these price increases be the result of local UK speculation and profiteering by the oil industry and the UK Government ?
"Energy supply is a long-term issue that deserves more careful consideration.
"The Chancellor has implemented a careful balance of encouraging fuel efficiency while not undermining the economy and the approach he outlined in his statement last night in which he said he would look at the proposed rise in fuel duty in the light of world market prices is sensible and pragmatic.
Given the Government's lack of progress on sustainable energy and transport policies, the balance is wrong and the damage to the economy is now too high.
"We should not lose sight of the object of sustainability and the wise use of finite resources.""
So what exactly has DEFRA or the Treasury achieved in quantitative terms during the the last year regarding these political slogans ?
Farmers for Action are not pleased by the statement by Environment Minister Elliot Morley on the fuel crisis:
"Chairman David Handley “Our present government blatantly encourages food imports via the giant supermarket chains and aviation fuel ranks No 1 in air pollution. Following 9-11, when all aircraft were grounded in the US, the average day time temperature rose by 1 degree centigrade due entirely to reduced pollution from aircraft.
Mr Morley obviously produces his own food and hence does not need to rely on the haulage industry to bring it to his door. He needs to get a reality check and as Environment Minister he surely now should be working with both the agricultural and environment sectors to develop and drive forward alternative fuels so that we can all live the clean lifestyle he purports to represent"."
"In a letter to the Chancellor, the leaders of Transport 2000, Green Alliance, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace UK, WWF-UK and RSPB urge him to stand firm against protesters and implement the planned rise in petrol and diesel duty."
"On behalf of the group, Stephen Joseph, Director of Transport 2000, said: “Increasing current supply and freezing duty may reduce fuel prices in the short term and take the heat off the situation but will not address the pressing issue of climate change and the need to reduce our dependence on oil. The Government should make the need to tackle climate change the focus of its response to any protests.”
In terms of solutions, the organisations argue the Government should:
... Actively communicate to motorists and hauliers the link between road transport and climate change.
... Explain that the high cost of petrol and diesel partially reflects the damage they do in terms of climate change and make the link real by using a higher percentage of fuel duty revenues to support sustainable transport.
... Increase investment generally in giving people real alternatives to car use such as improved public transport and safer streets for cycling and walking. The review of the Ten Year Transport Plan should provide opportunities to invest in decent travel alternatives for everyone, particularly the millions of people without access to a car.
... Introduce incentives or regulations, including mandatory labelling, to encourage manufacturers to make cars much more efficient.
... Encourage the use of biofuels as a substitute for conventional petrol and diesel.
... Give tax breaks for low carbon fuels by rating fuel duty in direct proportion to their ‘well to wheel’ (full life cycle) carbon emissions"
All very worthy ideas, except for the fact that the current Government policy does not re-invest the Fuel Duty and VAT or Vehicle Excise Duty revenue in any of these measures, except in a tokenistic way. Changing the patterns of vehicle use by regulation or the building of public transport infrastructure does not happen by magic simply by tinkering with the crude mechanism of fuel tax policy.
Exactly what rate of Fuel Duty will spontaneously cause the creation of a decent public transport service serving any particular location in the UK ?
What evidence is there that the slightly "green" tax differenctials on low sulpher fuel or Liquified Petroleum Gas have made any significant difference to the take up of these fuels in preference to the more polluting ones ?
The Government seems to have started to try to avert the protests, but they have not actually committed themselves to taking any action on fuel taxes. Various protest group organisers seem to be willing to give them a bit more time, and also, in all probability, to give themselves more time to organise themselves, in case Gordon Brown does push through the Fuel Duty increase of nearly 2p a litre on unleaded petrol this September.
The BBC reports that
"Fuel protesters call off action"
"Fuel protesters have postponed action in several areas of the country following "positive dialogue" with the government. The Fuel Lobby, one of the main protest groups, says action planned it had for next Wednesday will not now go ahead.
David Handley, the Chairman of Farmers for Action seems to be willing to give Chancellor Gordon Brown a little more time:
"4.6.04 - Chancellor agrees to revisit the September increase in fuel duty, therefore it is FFA's opinion we should give him his three to four week opportunity to discuss with all parties why he must not increase duty. It will also give us time to see what happens to crude oil price following yesterday's decision by OPEC to increase production. This is not a climb down on peaceful protest but FFA have always said if this can be sorted out with dialogue it surely must be the best way for all parties concerned.
Should Gordon Brown backtrack on his statement yesterday, I am sure everyone will be aware what will happen."
Are Michael Howard's remarks just political opportunism, or is there actually an alternative Opposition energy tax policy lurking somewhere unnoticed ?
"Asked if the Conservatives would back new protests he said: "I think that as long as they are peaceful and within the law they may well be supported"
Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Howard said: "I can understand that people might be very angry indeed if the government were to proceed with an increase in fuel duty at this time - it would cause great hardship to many people."
"I would entirely understand if they wanted to protest peacefully and within the law."
Later, during a visit to Gloucester, Mr Howard said a "much better way forward" was for ministers to drop their duty rise plans."
Todays world price of oil standing at $42 dollars a barrel must mean higher fuel prices at the pump very soon.
Some retailers are still selling stocks of petrol at around 85p per litre, but others' prices are well over the psychological £1 per litre.
Since it is election time, do ask any candidates (even if they are only standing for local councils) what their position is regarding the fuel crisis and what they propose to do to alleviate the hardship - perhaps this will filter back to the out of touch politicians in power.
Use the links on the right of this page to let these politicians know your feelings directly.
Are the media reports of the expected rise in the price of oil to over $40 a barrel, following the terrorist incident in Saudi Arabia, a self fulfilling prophecy ?
There has not actually been any damage to any of the physical oil industry infrastructure and no reduction in the flow of oil.
Exactly who is speculating on the price of oil ?
Are they "innocent" financial speculators, or are there some terrorist sympathisers who are inflaming the market instability ?
Alternatively, are some of the speculators who make money when the oil price goes either up or down, also actually financing terrorism directly or indirectly, in order to increase their own profits ?