UK suspends competition law to get fuel to petrol stations after panic buying – business live – The Guardian

People pushing as a car, which has run out of petrol, at a Texaco fuel station in south London, September 26, 2021.

People pushing as a car, which has run out of petrol, at a Texaco fuel station in south London, September 26, 2021. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.

Britain’s petrol crisis has deepened, forcing ministers to suspend competition law to help oil companies to target petrol stations running dry, after days of panic buying.

After a meeting with oil companies and retailers on Sunday, business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng agreed to temporarily exempt the industry from the Competition Act 1998.

This rare move announced last night will allow companies across the oil industry to work together to keep petrol stations topped up, sharing information and optimising supply without risking breaching competition rules.

Called the Downstream Oil Protocol, it should help fuel producers, suppliers, hauliers and retailers to prioritise the delivery of fuel to the parts of the country and strategic locations that are most in need.

Brian Madderson of the Petrol Retailers Association has said it will help, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that it:


…possibly allows the suppliers to put fuel into their competitors’ sites … and if so, the increased flexibility that that would give the supplying industry would be very welcome”.

But, Madderson added it isn’t a game-changer that will fix the crisis on its own.

Kwarteng said the move is part of “long-standing contingency plans” drawn up in case of a serious disruption.


“While there has always been and continues to be plenty of fuel at refineries and terminals, we are aware that there have been some issues with supply chains. This is why we will enact the Downstream Oil Protocol to ensure industry can share vital information and work together more effectively to ensure disruption is minimised.

“We thank HGV drivers and all forecourt staff for their tireless work during this period.”

David Sheppard
(@OilSheppard)

U.K. to exempt petrol and diesel sellers from the Competition Act, allowing them to share information and cooperate to prioritise fuel deliveries to areas of greatest need pic.twitter.com/OqPc1IKsDp


September 26, 2021

It follows days of panic buying at some petrol stations, after the UK’s shortage of lorry drives caused problems delivering fuel to the forecourt — a situation that worsened as more worried drivers headed to fill up.

Chris Giles
(@ChrisGiles_)

For econ students: it is not panic when people buy petrol today, but a rational response to others doing likewise

Shouting “don’t panic” will fail

As Mervyn King said of the run on Northern Rock: “once that run had started people were not behaving illogically in joining it”


September 25, 2021

Last night, BP reported that nearly a third of its British petrol stations had run out of the two main grades of fuel on Sunday, after several days of heightened demand saw long snakes of cars outside stations.

The government is now considering whether to deploy the army to get fuel moving from refineries to motorists.

Hundreds of soldiers could be scrambled to deliver fuel to petrol stations running dry across the country due to panic buying and a shortage of drivers under an emergency plan expected to be considered by Boris Johnson on Monday.

The prime minister will gather senior members of the cabinet to scrutinise “Operation Escalin”, as our political correspondent Aubrey Allegretti explains:


In a bid to prevent the crisis from deepening further, ministers including the business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, transport secretary Grant Shapps and home secretary Priti Patel gathered for a midday meeting on Sunday to discuss options – including Operation Escalin.

Conceived years ago during the planning for a no-deal Brexit, it would mean hundreds of soldiers being drafted in to drive a reserve fleet of 80 tankers. It is understood that it would take up to three weeks to fully implement, because some of those mobilised may already be on other deployments and others could be reservists. Escalin was touted as an option last week, but government sources downplayed the chance of its activation

Aubrey Allegretti
(@breeallegretti)

NEW: Senior ministers met today and are now “actively considering” Operation Escalin that would see troops mobilised to drive fuel tankers.

PM will give final verdict on the decision.https://t.co/QSYiaYLM0J


September 26, 2021

Also coming up today

Global investors will be digesting Germany’s federal general election. The centre-left SPD and their chancellor candidate, Olaf Scholz, have won 25.7% of the vote, giving them a slim lead over their centre-right CDU rivals — but both parties are claiming the right to build the next government.

The close result means Angela Merkel could remain as chancellor for a little while longer, as party leaders try to hammer out a coalition.

And Labour are to pledge to scrap UK business rates and undertake the “biggest overhaul of business taxation in a generation,”.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves will tell the Labour Party conference that the current system punishes entrepreneurs and business investment. Business groups have welcomed the move.

We’ll also get new healthchecks on the global economy, with Germany’s central bank issuing its monthly report and American factories reporting their latest order figures.

The agenda

  • 11am BST: Germany’s Bundesbank monthly report
  • 12.45pm BST: European central Bank president Christine Lagarde testifies at European Parliament
  • 1.30pm BST: US durable goods orders for August.

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