Petrol suppliers race to ditch Russian fuel as prices hit record at the pump

Petrol and diesel suppliers are racing to ditch Russian fuel amid efforts to isolate Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

Importers are examining suppliers who could replace Russia and are in touch with the Government to make sure fuel gets to where it is needed, according to the UK Petroleum Industry Association (UKPLA).

Petrol pump prices hit a record of 155.62p per litre on Monday, while diesel reached 161.28 pence.

About 13pc of the UK’s oil imports came from Russia in 2020, but ministers have now banned Russian ships from docking in UK ports and there remains the prospect of an embargo on the country’s energy.

An industry spokesman said: “UKPIA and its members are working to respond to a rapidly changing environment and our thoughts are with those in Ukraine. 

“Companies are in regular dialogue with the Government to ensure that fuels continue to be available to the public following the events in Ukraine and resulting sanctions on Russian vessels. Production, fuel imports, and inland deliveries continue to supply the fuels the country needs.”

Diesel suppliers also risk being forced to cut deliveries as soaring prices force credit insurers to cap their exposure to hauliers.

Fuel hauliers typically buy diesel and petrol on credit, with suppliers taking out insurance to protect them against the lorry company failing.

James Spencer, of commercial delivery business Portland Fuel, said this is the biggest problem in the diesel supply market.

Limits are usually set in monetary terms. As oil prices surge, this means hauliers will reach their limits on lower volumes.

Speaking to Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Spencer said: “Nobody supplies without credit insurance.”

Steve Chamberlain, of haulier Chamberlain Transport, admitted insurance could be a problem for the industry.

He said: “There will be concern about credit insurance. I imagine the credit insurers, which insure the fuel companies, will be looking to reduce the credit lines when we get into a distressed status.”

However, Mr Chamberlain added: “The UK haulage industry is brilliant at getting on with what it has in front of it.”

The prospect of an embargo on Russian energy also helped drive a record rally in wholesale natural gas prices – which surged past 800p per therm before settling at around 500p, 10 times higher than long-term averages and heaping pressure on heavy industry.

Make UK’s latest manufacturing survey, carried out at the end of February, found that 17pc of manufacturers had temporarily curbed production of certain products in response to high energy prices this year, while 39pc had increased the costs of their products to cope.

Gareth Stace, director general of UK Steel, said steelmakers were paying roughly eight times more for electricity than they were last year.

He urged the Government to “come forward with a plan to address the sky-high costs of energy for steelmakers and other energy-intensive industries.”

He added: “Our steel sector is fundamental to our national security and our economy. Without our steel sector, we are not able to play the role we need to on the world stage.”


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