Saturday, April 26, 2008

Fuel Crisis in Scotland

Now, I know the radio and television have been banging on about how we shouldn't panic buy fuel for our cars but have you seen the queues at the petrol station? My car still has 3/4 of a tank, so I'm resisiting the urge to just go "top up" because that would be the panic buying they told us we shouldn't do.

There is a 48 hour industrial action that started last night at the Grangemouth Refinery. The strike was called by the union and workers over changes to the company's pension schemes.

The Grangemouth Refinery in the Scottish central belt is the processing plant for most of the North Sea oil. It is Scotland's only major refinery. Most fuel suppliers and Scottish airports rely on this refinery. One of the knock on effects of this two day closure is that the pipeline feeding the refinery has been closed as have up to 70 of the oilfields.

Earlier in the week when it was certain that the industrial action was going to go ahead, the panic started. I was in Lanarkshire and passed two separate Shell garages that were out of diesel fuel. Later on in the day when I found some fuel at one of my regular filling stations, the price of diesel fuel had lept to £1.23 per litre. For those who wish me to do the math for you and convert the price in to dollars per gallon, it works out at £4.65 per US gallon and with today's rate of exchange (1.98 US dollars per 1.00 UK pound) that comes in at a whopping $9.22 per gallon. Gouging bastards! This was at a Shell garage! I was told by my colleague who lives in Pentcaitland near Edinburgh that she had seen prices as high as £1.55 per liter for diesel at an independent station.

It's always the customer that ends up paying. The second quarter profits better have shown that these companies (big oil) took a hit and not a rise in profits or I shall be very annoyed.

As we live in the country and there is NO usable public transport system, we rely on our cars. I have a company car. As a result of this "benefit" I pay a huge amount of tax every month. To top it all off the war in the middle east has seen fuel prices skyrocket. The cost of fuel makes my job as a territory sales person much less attractive to the company that employs me. I have seen many many sales people in my industry lose their jobs in the past year and a half. It makes my stomach hurt.

If I really want to make myself feel bad, I can think about food riots and the global food crisis. The wheat crop in the UK was terrible last year. The result of this is that the price of things made with wheat like bread and chicken feed have risen sharply. I used to pay just over £6 a bag for chicken feed and now it is closer to £8. That's a big jump. If I was selling my eggs commercially, I'd have to raise the prices accordingly. The price of everything is going up.

I would like some words of comfort from somebody. Tell me it's going to get better.

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