Friday, April 25, 2008

Brown's fuel crisis

The government has failed to learn the lessons of the fuel protests.

With forewarning of the current situation it should have done the following:

1) Mandated that filling stations raise the stocks they hold to near full (commercially they try to run on minimum stokes with just in time delivery to reduce inventories and the associated costs). The impact of this would be to avoid the panic of petrol stations running dry. It is also an obvious place to store petrol and diesel before any known interruption. The government should retain for itself powers to force petrol distributors and petrol stations to comply in times of emergency. In compensation it should allow for a temporary reduction in tax which the fuel distributors and sales points could be compensated for their being forced to buy greater stocks.

2) As soon as a 'run' on petrol stocks becomes evident and is threatening to make stations run dry they should enforce a maximum fuel purchase quantity - eg £15 / customer. ( This will reduce panic as everyone knows the rate of fuel depletion is limited. If necessary opening hours of fuel stations should be restricted to ensure effective rationing.

3) Strikes should be banned in critical parts of our infrastructure, and contingency plans for a major incident should be drawn up.

4) Unfortunatelty the current Grangemouth incident has drawn attention to obvious choke points in our fuel and energy supplies. Defensive arrangements will now need to be made. This was worried about a lot when the North Sea came into production, however the lack of threats has made us lax. This needs to be put right as a matter of urgency. The consequences of major incidents need to be properly, and realistically - that means professional engineering input not just emergency services and civil servants- planned for.

Also it really is no good asking people to be calm and not to panic buy. As most people realise that just means those who are suckered by the government advice will have empty tanks - as its a clear example of the tragedy of the commons.

1 comment:

lJN said...

I think that we have been lured into this fuel trap for years, even decades. The technology has been suppressed for years. The government can't help us, it's every man for himself. I have my own blog on this topic too because I'm so mad about the topic.