Diesel fuel averages £1.32 per litre in the UK or $10.11 per gallon. Since truck stop pumps dispense fuel at a rate of 120 litres a minute, 1,000 litres on average per tank means $2,600+ per. A huge percentage of the increase is in the form of taxes and thus truckers want Whitehall to do something to at least slow government’s share of the problem.
100’s of trucks drove through and around downtown London during Prime Minister’s Question time in the House, expressing their displeasure at the high cost of diesel (which already starts 10% higher than petrol) that is destroying many businesses. Yesterday The Guardian reported that “today’s action saw a section of the busy London-bound A40 Westway road close, but overall the protest was non-disruptive.
Kent-based haulier Peter Carroll of Transaction, the fuel protest group, warned that unless government policy changed, some drivers could take part in ‘wildcat action’. “I fear that if the government does not listen, they (drivers) might end up doing things that we would not condone but which we would understand,” said Carroll from the protest outside the Houses of Parliament.
“This is all about people – people who have built up their businesses, sometimes over generations. “It breaks my heart when I meet people who have had to re-mortgage their homes and are now facing a kind of commercial slaughter on a gigantic scale.”
The rises are unprecedented and there is no cost parity across the EU so drivers in France and Belgium tank up before getting on the ferry, drive on UK roads and fill up again when they return home thus saving considerable money. While the government did scrap a scheduled .02 pence per litre rise in April, fuel costs though have risen 30% this year and £1.50 per litre diesel is months, if not just weeks, away.
What can the government do? Not much really. It’s all a matter of who has the biggest impact/makes the most real noise. Fuel hauliers for Shell staged a four-day strike recently and won a 14% pay increase (over two years) because stations began to run out of petrol, consumer panic buying ensued, lines began to form and the company blinked. One service station owner in Devon raised his prices to £1.99 and pilloried for taking advantage of consumers.
Government workers faced with rising costs of all home products have threatened strike action along with teachers and NHS nurses. Yes there is some speculation and the supply and demand curves are identical with and no new fields coming online. China adds 1,000 cars each day to the roads, India less than but significant.
The problem is that like junkies injecting drugs between our toes because the veins in our arms have collapsed, little is being done to end our dependence on foreign oil, rather we try to find ways to ensure we get an uninterrupted supply at any price.
And OPEC knows this.