Better outlook for UK petrol retailing?

Brian Madderson, chairman of the  Petrol Retailers’ Association.
Brian Madderson, chairman of the Petrol Retailers’ Association.

AFTER a very long period of tough trading circumstances for fuel retailers there have been signs that some things might be better than before, but fuel security remains a major concern, Brian Madderson, chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association, told Scottish Grocer.

Fuel prices in 2013 were significantly affected by international tensions last year. However, the average price of Brent crude fell for the second year, levelling around US$109. And with US output expanding and immediate threats to Middle East and North Africa easing, Bloomberg suggests a further fall to US$105 is expected in 2014 which could help to reduce UK wholesale prices, Madderson said.
And, though it’s difficult to forecast accurately, the strength of the pound against the US dollar could also see UK prices for fuel decrease. Government freezes on duty provide another positive element for future fuel pricing.
However, although there are now only seven refineries operating across the UK, industry observers still believe that one or even two may close in 2014, he said.
That could be driven by the newly available US shale oil curtailing American need to import gasoline, for the “driving season”, which has often been supplied by UK refineries.